FOR the low-profile jute merchants of Assam, prosperity has come with a bitter message: demands of extortion from the states various insurgent groups. In the late 80s and early 90s, the tea industry in Assam was the prime target for extortion. But over the past couple of years, insurgent groups, especially the Bodo militants from lower Assam, have shifted their attention to the jute industry. Not only money, even lives are being lost to militant attacks, especially the lives of those who try to defy the extortion notices.
Four months ago, two leading jute traders, both of whom had tried to resist the militants, were attacked by Bodo extremists in Dhubri districts Chapar township. One of them, the owner of a large warehouse, was killed in the attack, while the other’s son suffered serious injuries. The latter has since shifted his operations to Calcutta.