Many continue to condemn betel leaf cargo

IMPHAL, 6th Apr: Many continue to condemn delivery of betel leaves as airline cargo to the state instead of bringing in life-saving drugs and other essential items, especially when the whole country is in lockdown to contain outbreak of COVID-19 and the people are facing hardships owing to shortage of essential items.
Issuing a statement in this regard, People’s Action for National Democratic Movement (PANDM) secretary organisation Irungbam Dolen Meetei said that the betel leaf cargo, which was airlifted to the state on April 4, could not be taken outside the airport campus after PANDM volunteers intervened. On the day, around 300 bundles of betel leaves were flown into the state. However, 70 bundles were swiftly transported from the airport using a van and a Tata Tipper belonging to one Chara Singh.
As per reports, Chara Singh is currently in the custody of Singjamei Police Station. If so, the authorities concerned should clarify whether all 70 bundles have been recovered or traceless. In addition, the total bundles at the airport should be 230. If the given number is not correct, the same should be revealed in front of the Magistrate in the presence of the media and the CSOs of the state.
Stating that the said act could not be the doing of big Kolkata businessmen and one lone Manipuri person, the secretary raised suspicion over the possibility of involvement of certain powerful persons in the government. As such, he urged the CM not to protect the wrongdoers but punish them for their crimes. If the government fails to listen to the wishes of the people, it could lead into a bigger chaos, he cautioned.
While demanding the state government to dispose of all the seized betel leaves in public view, Communist Party of India (CPI), Manipur State Council (MSC) commended alertness of all concerned that led to the seizure of large bulk of betel leaves from the airport.
It is appealed to the government to destroy the seized consignment immediately and demanded the state authorities to ensure that all the people particularly daily wagers and labourers get essential commodities during the lockdown period. Meanwhile, United People’s Front (UPF) president W Second in a release condemned the delivery of the betel leaf cargo, stating that not only the act reeks of selfishness; it is also an attempt to destroy the state.
He then demanded that the betel leaves should be destroyed publicly, while further demanding the state government to take strict action against those responsible.
The statement further appealed to the authorities to ensure availability of life-saving drugs in the market at the earliest, while urging transporters not to bring in labourers from outside during the lockdown, especially when the country is battling a pandemic.
It also urged all concerned to take a proactive responsibility in preventing the spread of the disease, while lauding all doctors, nurses, para-medical staff, health worker, medical department, press, water supply, electricity and police personnel for their hard work.
Meetei Students’ Association, Manipur University has denounced airlifting of huge consignment of betel leaves into the state and said that bringing in such items at a time when the whole population is suffering from scarcity of food amid COVID-19 pandemic was very unfortunate.
In a release, MSA president Deepu Chongtham stated that there are apparent indications that some influential individuals of the state are behind the airlifting of betel leaves into the state through special cargo flight when there is a nationwide restriction in movement and transportations of goods other than essential commodities. He also commented that bringing in of such items into the state for some profit in such a time of national crisis is similar to exposing the public to more perilous situation. He also appealed to all CSOs of the state for intervention on the issue, opining that the public should adopt a similar stance in preventing themselves from the item similarly to the measures taken for preventing from COVID-19. Moreover, he deplored the acts of racial discrimination against natives of North-eastern states residing in different parts of mainland India in light of the pandemic and urged the Central Government to take up strict measures to curb such activities from continuing.

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