‘Majority of betel leaf owners are non-locals’
IMPHAL, 11th Apr: Majority of the owners of the huge betel leaves airlifted by cargo planes on March 4 and remaining at Imphal airport following seizure are non-Manipuris and all of them have gone hiding, stated transporter Laishram Anil.
Anil was arrested for airlifting the huge consignment of betel leaves in violation of lockdown regulations but he currently out on bail.
Addressing media persons along with consignee Thingujam Kamo in a press conference on Saturday, Anil said he has been the transporter of betel leaves for the past two years and used to transport betel leaves brought by flight to storehouses of owners with the help of codes mentioned in each basket of betel leaves.
The huge betel leaves brought by Air Asia, Spicejet and Indigo flights on March 4 were transported in the name of Thingujam Kamo. However, neither Kamo nor he purchased the betel leaves or booked the flights, he said adding that the betel leaves belonged to non-Manipuris who are doing the business as usual in Imphal, Thoubal, Churachandpur and Kwakta.
There is a list of traders involved in betel leaves but all of them remained hidden now after the April 4 incident at Imphal airport and public movement, he said while claiming that he still possess mobile numbers and codes of all the traders. Anil also offered to extend cooperation in locating real owners of the seized betel leaves.
Consignee Thingujam Kamo, who too was arrested but released on bail, told media persons that he is not the real owner of the betel leaves airlifted from Kolkata to Imphal on March 4 though the consignment was transported in his name.
Kamo also said that he has no objection to disposing the seized betel leaves and own up responsibility as real owners remain hidden fearing public reprisal.