Imphal: Drivers of passenger service vehicles along Imphal-Moreh section of NH-102 suspended their services for the day on Wednesday to protest against alleged physical assault of one of their colleagues by suspected armed cadres of a militant group.
Ceasing their work for the day, the drivers staged a protest at Sora in Kakching today.
The drivers set a 48-hour deadline to the government to book the culprit(s) while threatening to impose an indefinite blockade along the highway if their demand is not met.
According to the drivers, the armed cadres assaulted a driver of the passenger service Eco-van, identified as Md Abdul Hakim (30) of Sora Keithel, physically after stopping his vehicle in Tengnoupal district last night, around 7 pm.
He was allegedly assaulted for not paying “tax” being collected by a militant group. Cadres of the particular armed group used to collect money from the commercial vehicles as tax at the village, the drivers alleged.
The victim driver told reporters that the incident occurred when he was returning from Moreh. He returned by loading some goods after no passengers were available.
On reaching a place, the suspected cadres stopped his vehicle and demanded Rs 250 as tax to the outfit.
As he had no passengers and no money due to dull business of the day, he requested them to exempt the tax for the day, the driver narrated.
However, the armed cadres insisted that he pays at least Rs 100. He had no means to pay the money following which he was beaten up by them, the driver further alleged.
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In protest against the assault on one of their colleagues, drivers of all kinds of passenger service vehicles suspended their services for the day and staged a protest at Sora.
A driver who preferred to omit his name said that a meeting of the drivers convened earlier resolved to set a 48-hour deadline to the government to book the culprits.
The meeting resolved to impose an indefinite blockade on the NH-102 if their demand is not fulfilled by the government.
The driver alleged that cadres of the militant group have been openly collecting the illegal tax from the drivers at the said place for a long time.