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Tea workers burn boss to death

Gauhati, India -

Hundreds of tea estate workers surrounded the plantation owner's home in India's northeastern state of Assam and set it on fire over a labor dispute, killing him and his wife, police said on Thursday.

File photo: Indian tea garden workers pluck tea leaves in the Dagapur tea garden on the outskirts of Siliguri on June 1, 2011. Credit: AFP

Police recovered the charred bodies of the couple, Mridul Kumar Bhattacharyya and his wife, Rita, from the burned remains of their house in Tinsukhia district, police Superintendent PP Singh said.

The plantation had been rocked by labor trouble over the past few weeks and some workers had been suspended two weeks ago.

On Wednesday, around 700 workers armed with bows and poison-tipped arrows surrounded the house and set it on fire, trapping the couple. The house had burned down by the time police reached the remote region in Tinsukhia.

Police are investigating but no arrests have been made, Singh said.

The estate is about 700 kilometres north-east of Assam's capital, Gauhati.

More than half of India's tea production comes from about 1 000 tea estates across Assam. Tea plantations, also known as 'gardens,' employ thousands of women, especially for plucking the leaves from tea bushes. - Sapa-AP

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