Manipurs sericulture department protest against militants highhandedness

September 13th, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by ANI  

Imphal, Sept 12 (ANI): Protests against militancy continue in Manipur with people in the state coming out openly against the highhandedness and brutal activities of the militant groups. The staff of the Sericulture Department recently held a demonstration in West Imphal against underground groups, which have been trying to extort money and threatening officials.

Staff of the Sericulture Department in Manipur is on a warpath against militants” highhandedness in the State.

The sericulture department at Lamphel in Imphal West was out in protest against the militant outfits, which have been demanding seven per cent of the department’’s annual budget, two per cent of the salary of each employee and Rs. 2 crore from the work undertaken by the department.

Such extortion has affected the functioning of the department very badly, which is entrusted with the task of imparting technical know how to the farmers and youth of the state.

While emphasising on the negative effect of militancy on growth, N.Jibon Singh, Principal, Sericulture Training Institute, Thoubal said, “If the training programs are hampered, the students will lag behind in technical knowledge. So we appeal to the concerned people not to do such things in these training centres.”

P. Sushila Devi, a student at the Sericulture Institute, Manipur, says, “We are living by using the farm. We will not be able to live if they continue disturbing us frequently with such demands. With militant activities, our hopes are fading away.”

The employees of the department fear losing out on the 134 crore rupees project that Japan Bank of International Cooperation has provided for the first phase of the sericulture project. The bank may stop funding the second phase if militants continue to get in the way of the implementation of the scheme. The project has given direct employment to at least 5,000 farmers and the extortion demands by the militant outfits have caused anxiety among farmers whose livelihood is linked to such projects.

Y. Tomba Singh, a Manipuri farmer, said, “We farmers are working for sericulture production in the state and this has given us employment. We are struggling to meet our daily needs and troubling us by making huge monetary demands is not good. If this goes on we will have nothing to live on. We appeal that such monetary demands should be stopped.”

People fear that the Sericulture Department may be closed if militant activities continue. While expressing his anxiety, Gopal Sharma, another Manipuri farmer said, “When the militant outfits are targeting the Sericulture Department, making monetary demands and also creating havoc and disturbances here, we fear that in the long run we may lose the sericulture department. If it continues, it’’s possible that we might close down the department.”

As the sericulture department has not given in to the demands of the militant outfits, a live bullet was handed over to the director at her residence and this led to the forcible shutting down of the project office and training centre located at Kwata.

Militants who claim to represent the interests of the people are harassing the common people and are hampering the growth and development of the State. The continuous extortion demands prove that militants are not guided by any ideology but by purely mercenary considerations. (ANI)

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