The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After insurance, healthcare hit
- Manipur drugstores shut after rebel threat

Imphal, June 2: While life- saving drugs remained locked behind shutters, patients bore the brunt in the Manipur capital today. The acute shortage of medicines paralysed the healthcare machinery in the state as drugstores here downed shutters since morning, following threats from a militant group.

Sources said a militant group tried to extort a huge sum of money from drugstore owners and threatened them with dire consequences if the demand was not met.

A source in the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) said all drugstores near the hospital were closed since morning. Medicine shops near the state government-run Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital at Porompat in Imphal East, too, remained shut.

The source said drug scarcity had already hit RIMS. “My son has run out of medicines. I could not buy any, as none of the stores was open. I don’t know what to do,” Mani Singh, father of a patient in the children’s ward, said.

A doctor at the hospital feared lives could be lost if the supply of life-saving drugs was not resumed.

The state health department was aware of the closure, but had not received any formal complaint about the scarcity of drugs, a senior official said. Police, too, maintained that no complaint had been lodged so far.

However, security in the capital has been tightened following reports of militant threats to the insurance company and drugstores, police said.

The closure of drugstores comes close on the heels of the Life Insurance Corporation’s Imphal branch shutting shop under similar circumstances since May 21.

Shops in Paona Bazar, selling mostly imported garments and electronic goods, also remained closed today, for the second time since May 28, following fresh threats from a militant group. On May 28, nearly 100 shops at Paona international market shut shop for a day after the rebel group demanded Rs 15 lakh.

The shopkeepers held a meeting yesterday and decided to down shutters in the wake of the threat.

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