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Traders point finger at outfit

Imphal, May 21: Fish and egg traders of Imphal have accused the NSCN (I-M) of trying to control the market for these two items in Manipur by sending out its “associates” to retail outlets in Imphal for procuring the items only from them instead of wholesalers.

The traders said than 10 Imphal-bound trucks carrying fish and eggs were stranded at Dimapur in Nagaland and at some places in Senapati district of Manipur after cadres of the NSCN (I-M) allegedly stopped the vehicles on May 17.

The All Manipur Fish and Egg Trader Association, mostly wholesalers, today submitted a memorandum to deputy chief minister Gaikhangam seeking the government’s intervention into the matter.

“After stopping the trucks the cadres said we should henceforth stop importing fish and egg from outside the state. Simultaneously, with this development some individuals claiming to be ‘associates’ of the NSCN (I-M) asked the retailers in Imphal to procure the items from them instead of buying the items from the members of our association,” H. Kunjalata Devi, the president of the association, said.

Manipur is not only a fish-eating state, but also has a huge demand for eggs. Members of the association have been importing fish and eggs from Andhra Pradesh as the market share of the local products is very small. Naturally fish has a huge market in Manipur.

According to the association, Manipur needs 10,000kg of imported fish daily while the state has daily requirement of 2.7 lakh eggs. Greater Imphal alone consumes 3,000kg of imported fish daily.

The imported fish also finds market in all the districts, including those in the hills. The favourite is rohu, sharing 80 per cent of the fish market.

“We have no problem if anyone joins the import or wholesale business. We have a problem when any one tries to prevent us from continuing with our business. We are maintaining our families and sending our children to schools by doing business,” N. Joykumar Singh, the general secretary of the association, said.

The association has more than 100 members, some of them importer-wholesalers, while some are retailers.

The association suspects that the NSCN (I-M) wanted to control the fish and egg business in Manipur with their “associates” in Imphal.

In its memorandum to Gaikhangam, who is also the home minister, the association said some outfits together with some individuals had imposed restrictions on the transportation of fish and eggs from outside. “The goods such as fish and eggs which have been imported from south India along with the vehicles that brought the items are currently stranded at Mao in Manipur, bordering Nagaland and at Dimapur in Nagaland and between Mao and Senapati district (headquarters) since May 17,” it said.

The association feared that the items would rot if the vehicles remained stranded.