Manipur pharmacies face militant threats for extortion money

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Imphal, May 12 (ANI): People in Imphal have been hit hard due to militants targeting pharmacies with extortion demands.

Pharmacies that have become the latest target for militants in Manipur downed shutters across the state in protest against huge extortion demands made by the militants.

Around 40 chemist shops and medicine distributors remained closed in the state following their inability to meet the extortion demands of the militants.

Sources say a million rupees have been demanded as tax by the Kangleipak communist party (military council) (KCP-MC) militant outfit.

"It is very unfortunate that even the life saving drug medicines shops are not spared of the so called tax or demand of the outfits. In summer, the number of patients is increasing on the other hand if they shut down their shops because of the inability to meet the demands of the outfit, I think medicine supply in Manipur will run out very soon," said Dr. Y. Mohen Singh, Superintendent, RIMS.

"If militants continue to trouble us in this manner, where will we get our supplies as the stocks in our retail shops are over. We are not able to help the patients as the medicines are over. In this situation, we are very helpless," said Romi Singh, Pharmacist, Imphal.

The closure of pharmacies has led to panic across Manipur with doctors and patients fearing a shortage of lifesaving medicines.

40 chemists and distributors supply life saving drugs for the 25 million people in the state.

We will really suffer. If we get the medicines we can save our lives else we cannot do anything," said Leibakmacha Singh, a patient in Imphal.

"We are suffering. We don't want this to happen. Such kind of banning chemist shops is not right. We are here for treatment and if they ban the pharmacist, where will we go for medicines?," said Kh. Tombapu Singh, another patient in Imphal.

Everyday, around a thousand patients visit the outpatient department of RIMS, Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital and Primary health centers and District Hospitals all across the state.

If the situation is not resolved at the earliest, the closure of pharmacies will lead to a major crisis.

Meanwhile security forces are on high alert to prevent any untoward incident.

"We enquired and learnt that this was mainly done by one faction of the KCP.

We have asked the shopkeepers to keep the shops open. We will increase all security in the area, which I have told them. We have assured them that we will provide maximum security in the shop and also during transportation as well," said L. Kailun, Superintendent of Police, Imphal West.

This is not the first time militants have targeted pharmacies and distributors of medicines in the state. Earlier, there have been instances where various militant outfits put a demand of Rs. 2,00,000 on annual basis from each pharmacy. (ANI)

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