The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rebels lock doors, cops open

Imphal, June 28: Manipur police today broke open two state government offices which were reportedly locked by suspected militants on Tuesday after the employees failed to meet their demands.

An official source said unidentified persons locked up the offices of the state tourism department and the industries department and threatened the employees against attending office.

The tourism office is located near the headquarters of the 2nd Manipur Rifles battalion in Imphal city and the industries department is located at Lamphel in Imphal West.

No employee, including top-ranking officials, has turned up at the departments since the threat was issued. Six armed personnel of Manipur Rifles were guarding the deserted tourism office when this correspondent visited the department today.

“No employee has come in since we arrived here this morning. We have heard that the senior officials are meeting somewhere, but we are not aware of the venue. Neither do we know who closed the office or why the employees are not turning up. We have only been told to guard this office,” one of the guards said.

A senior police officer said a militant group had asked the employees of the two departments to pay a certain sum which remains unspecified. They were threatened after the demands were not met.

Inspector-general of police (law and order-I) S. Dinokumar Singh expressed surprise at the employees’ failure to attend office when security personnel were guarding the office. “Why should they be afraid' We have provided armed guards for them in the offices. We told the senior officers of the departments to attend office.”

A source hinted that the government might initiate punitive actions against employees who refused to attend office. Explaining the employees’ reluctance to attend office after the threats, the director of a government department said security measures taken by the police had failed to instil a sense of security in the minds of the workers.

This is the yet another instance when suspected militants have forced offices and stores in the state to remain closed. Police officials said suspected rebels had also locked the state agriculture department office on Tuesday. The police opened it yesterday and the employees turned up today.

The Imphal branch of the LIC had suspended operations for nearly a fortnight from May 21 after a militant group asked them to pay a certain sum. The police forced open the insurance company’s office on June 4.

All the medicine stores in the state had remained closed for two consecutive days earlier this month after militants reportedly demanded money from pharmaceutical companies supplying medicines to the stores. The police later opened the medicine stores.

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