Miscreants on the prowl
REGARDLESS of the government giving assurances to transport operators for making the national highways safe the latest incident of unknown gunmen attacking an oil tanker in a Kangpokpi district area suggests that miscreants continue to prowl the lifeline and could launch attack anytime, anywhere. While the government seems to be losing badly in view of the anti-social elements not hesitating to open fire at vehicle convoys, which normally ply on the Imphal-Dimapur stretch of NH-2 amid security escorts, the latest incident testifies that the drivers and their assistants continue to be exposed to serious threat. Discontentment among the transport operators over failure of the state authorities to ensure their safety along the highways could be comprehended from the tanker drivers resorting to steering off agitation and transporters’ organisations threatening to prolong their stir in case oil tankers face such attacks in the future. Past agitations launched by the drivers of oil tankers or LPG bullet tankers were settled mainly after arriving at agreements that the government will provide full-proof security, realisation by the transporters that ceasing work for extended period will only compound suffering of the people as well as subsequent to some armed groups, known to have strong presence in areas where the attacks were carried out, clarifying about their non-involvement. As reported, attacks on convoy of loaded LPG carriers and oil tankers had been most frequent near Changoubung village under Kangpokpi police station, thus, hinting that the area is strategically safe for the militants to vanish after carrying out their hit and run campaign.
Similar attacks in the past at the said area had seen some drivers suffering injuries, oil tankers directly hit and developing leakage of the highly inflammable petroleum product but the drivers somehow managing to stop the spillage by patching up the holes using soap and proceeding toward Imphal. With the exception of a particular armed outfit claiming involvement in one such attack and insisting that the attack was intended to caution oil tankers against plying along NH-2, transporters continuing to face constant threat and the law enforcement agencies often failing to effect arrest or sanitise the highway stretch from adversary elements leaves nothing to doubt that miscreants are having the upper hand, at-least for now. In the same way that the government announced for providing suitable job to the next of kin of those maimed or deceased drivers and the assurance for adequate compensation for damage suffered by all goods carriers, state authorities need to chalk up effective strategies to curb the highway nuisances as the transporters cannot be expected to continue service in-spite of constant threat they are exposed to. The latest incident of attacking the oil tanker occurring at the same spot where two similar incidents had taken place and the said area situated only about one and half kilometre from the present location of Kangpokpi police station merit investigation to authenticate whether or not there were any lapses in security arrangements as it is learnt that police commandos have already been deployed at the district headquarters as a part of the government’s measures to protect the national highway.