Friday, January 28, 2011


In a significant development for crisis-hit Manipur, the state’s freight truck and oil tanker drivers, who are responsible for bringing essential items to Manipur have decided not to use national highway 39 again. This decision was arrived at in an emergency meeting of the inter-state Drivers held in the backdrop of the recent abduction and harassment faced by the driver community. In an emergency meeting held at the office of the All Manipur Road Transport Dirvers’ & Motor Workers’ Union, Freight truck drivers and Oil Tanker drivers have unanimously decided to abandon the shorter and more convenient national highway 39 that connects Manipur with Assam via Nagaland. Instead of using the NH 39, the drivers resolved to use the longer national highway 53 to bring essential commodities from Manipur. This joint decision of the inter-state drivers was arrived at, in view of the frequent harassment and life threatening incidents that drivers travelling along the NH 39 had to face.This is not the first time that freight and oil tank drivers had decided to abandon the use of the national highway 39. The Manipur State Govt had requisitioned the freight trucks and oil tankers and had compelled the drivers to use the dread national highway. The grievance of the drivers is that Govt of Manipur as well as all the other concerned authorities have always turned blind eye to their plight. The truckers had suspended operation last week after Karbi militants kidnapped two tanker drivers and a handyman from Deopani of Karbi Anglong while they were on way to Manipur. Demanding their release, all oil tankers had started ceasework strike forcing the government to intervene. The two drivers and the handyman had spent 8 days in captivity under the custody of a Karbi militant outfit. The militants demanded Rs 50 lakh from the owner of the tanker. It is not known whether the extortion has been paid and how much if at all it was paid.


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