The attack reportedly occurred when Rajesh Jhunjhunwala, also known as Rajesh Agarwal, met with the plantation’s workers to discuss their demands after a long-term dispute had resulted in employees staging a dharna (a non-violent sit-in).
"During the talks, an altercation broke out between the owner and the workers, as the latter demanded that Jhunjhunwala clear all their wage arrears," Kunal Agarwal, superintendent of Police for Jalpaiguri, told Indian Express. "Jhunjhunwala expressed his inability to do so and also refused to pay them the day's wages. The workers became violent and attacked Jhunjhunwala."
The length of Jhunjhunwala’s role as employer is unknown, but according to some sources his workers had not received wages for six months.
India is second to China as the globe’s largest tea producer, but the industry’s wages and conditions are notoriously bad – the average worker earns the equivalent of twenty-one cents per day.
Sadly, this incident is not unique within India’s tea production industry, which has a history of fatal attacks on bosses. In June, the CEO of Northbrook Jute Mill in Bhadreshwar was beaten to death by employees, and in 2012 Mridul and Rita Bhattacharyya were burned alive by a mob of workers at their home following a two-week dispute over pay.
A tea plantation owner in Bengal, Northern India, has been brutally murdered by his employees in an alleged dispute over pay and working conditions.