Extortion demands compel village heads to be on the run in Imphal

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Imphal, June 25 (ANI): Unable to meet extortion demands of militants, members of various Gram Panchayats (village councils) in Imphal West district have fled their homes.

The have taken refuge at the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) office, Imphal West DC Complex since May 8.

Following the extortion demands and threatening environment, there is a palpable sense of fear among the village councils in Manipur.

Militant outfits like KYKL, KCP-MC, PREPAK are demanding 30 percent of the amount sanctioned under State Finance Commission and 12th Finance Commission. They have demanded Rs 50,000 from each from various gram Panchayat institutes.

"They even enter our houses and threaten us. We are not able to move out of our houses without fear. That is why we have taken shelter here," said Haojam Lal Singh, one of the Presidents of village councils.

"They are harassing us. There are many Central developmental schemes and we are trying to make projects and guidelines, so that we put forward a proposal to the Centre and get the funds meant for the people. But, unfortunately, with all these extortion demands and violence taking place in the region, we are unable to proceed with the work at hand," said another.

Condemning the extortion demands, the village heads and members of village councils under Imphal West-I, supported by local people recently staged a protest demonstration at Takyel Kolom Leikai.

They have appealed to the militant outfits to withdraw their demands.

"Militants are demanding huge sums of money from the Panchayat, the money which is meant for the development of the state. They are putting a lot of pressure on us. We are here to work and help the people. They should be working for the betterment of the society as well. They shouldn't be putting unnecessary burden on us," said Memthoi, Sagolband Gram Panchayat's head.

"Militants have to understand that we work for the people and help them get maximum benefits. Their co-operation is needed for a solution to all this. Only then there will be peace and prosperity," said Keroni, a local resident in Imphal.

Various protest demonstrations were staged at Maklang, Konthoujam, Kamong Yarou, Bamdiar and Changangei Gram Panchayats in Imphal.

Meanwhile, the extortion demands by the militants have severely affected developmental work in villages. (ANI)

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