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Extortion! The Big Business In Manipur

Manipur Film Actresses on protest against UG Demands... Photo

India’s northeast region is on the road to peace and development, but the denizens in trouble-torn Manipur still continue to yearn to enjoy the peace dividend.

Manipur, the state located at the border, and having the potential to be benefited the most with India’s Look East Policy towards ASEAN nations continues to reel under insurgency. And the big business in the state – Extortion!

Undoubtedly the Manipuri people are sick of extortion bids, but a number of underground ethnic outfits, who claim to be ‘nationalists’, continue to make the life grim in the state.

Ask a common Manipuri and he has paid extortion money, what the underground outfits extort in the name of ‘taxes’. Before reaching on any conclusion, we surveyed people from different walks of life to get a viewpoint, and their thoughts were no different. In the opinion poll it was found that a majority of people in the state consider that this is a major roadblock to development.

Some of the worried doctors in capital Imphal shared their helplessness about the growing menace of extortion. When they joined this noble profession they never thought that instead of pains of patients, their woes would be more paramount. Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, a prominent medical institute in Manipur has seen many desertions in the last few years due to threat of extortion by the underground militant groups.

“No institution is free from this kind of incidences but somehow in this institution we are managing to handle and work is going on smoothly,” said Victor Phemate, Director, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences.

“When this extortion comes the doctors are mentally stressed. The doctors feel disturbed and it hampers the professional work. They cannot concentrate more in their duties,” said Dr A. J. Singh, President, Manipur Medical Association.

“It is a well known business going on in Manipur this is very much true. Altogether 20% of our salary we are contributing to various organizations,” said Dr. T. Rajan Singh, State Secretary, Indian Medical Association, Manipur.

Public Works Department’s office is another place that is always on target. Underground groups always target the money that comes for roads and infrastructure development. The Director of the PWD feels insecure even to talk on this issue.

The public and small businessess are reeling under UG extortion demand... so says the banner

Bus operators and passengers too fall prey to the extortion. Many people feel insecure while traveling late in the evening.

“So many times we face many problems by insurgent groups, those who are staying on National Highway 39. Passengers are facing these problems and we are very upset. We want the government to control this problem,” said Sarat Chandra Singh, Teacher.

“We have been trying our best to keep up the progress wanted by the public. We are also trying our best for the satisfaction of the people here but our problem is that pressure is coming from different angles with regards to the taking off the work especially at the time allotment of work to the agencies,” said Dr. Jiti Sharma.

There is a general feeling among the Manipuri people is that the nefarious activities of the underground groups is hampering state’s development. The masses fear their lives and want the government to act tough against insurgent groups.

“I do not like it at all. All the citizens are disturbed by it and are facing problems. This thing has created problems in every sphere of life,” said Bishobanu, a local resident.

“This has badly affected every department whether it is public or private sector like transportation or even the governmental departments in Manipur today,” said Bobby, a local resident.

“This extortion the mass extortion of the people is too much in Manipur from all the sides,” said R. K. Barnushi, teacher.

Intellectuals in the state believe that extortion is the major hurdle in economic growth and working class is the real sufferer. They also believe that the government’s apathy and incapability to handle this situation is making many Manipuris leave the state for a better life in other parts of the country.

(Courtesy: ANI)

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