Manipur drivers launch strike against colleague’s arrest

Imphal, April 17 (IANS) Drivers of inter-state public transport vans in Manipur launched an indefinite strike from midnight of Saturday, accusing Nagaland Police of arresting a fellow driver on April 12 without any reason.

The All Manipur Inter-state Winger and Cruiser Drivers Welfare Union launched the strike, saying driver Mohammad Nasir was arrested at the police check post at Lalmati in Nagaland on April 12.

“Nasir drives a van along the Imphal-Dimapur national highway. On that day, he was ferrying passengers when he was flagged down by policemen at Lalmati in Nagaland and detained. After receiving the news, we rushed there, but police failed to furnish any specific reason for the arrest. Till date, police are refusing to release him,” said union president K. Sankarjit.

Representatives of the drivers’ union have submitted memoranda to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and Director General of Police L.M. Khoute over the incident.

Sources said the chief minister and senior Manipur Police officials are in touch with their Nagaland counterparts to secure Nasir’s release.

The drivers’ union’s vice president, K. Sanatomba, said inter-state buses have also assured their support to the strike.

Meanwhile, tension prevails in Ukhrul district of Manipur following the kidnapping of driver P.A. Chinaosung on April 13 night by tribal militants.

Chinaosung was engaged in transporting construction materials for a project in the district.

Police fear the kidnapping may be connected with extortions by some underground organisations.

Tangkhul Naga Long, a social organisation in Ukhrul, has set April 19 as the deadline for freeing the driver, and threatened that people of two nearby villages, Songphel and Gangbikot, will have to face the consequences.

Some drivers told IANS on Sunday that police personnel at check-points along the national highway collect various ‘taxes’ from vehicles coming from Manipur although no money receipt is issued.

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