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Since 1st March, 1999
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Force to probe tax slur

Imphal, Feb. 17: The Assam Rifles today denied allegations that its personnel manning one of the posts at Keithelmanbi had demanded illegal tax from truck drivers heading for Silchar. The paramilitary force, however, has ordered a probe considering the seriousness of the allegations.

“We have ordered an inquiry to know what exactly has happened. The investigation will take some time and action will be taken if anybody is found guilty,” Assam Rifles spokesman Col L.M. Pant said today.

Twelve Silchar-bound trucks loaded with scrap iron were stopped at the checkgate of the 32 Assam Rifles post at Keithelmanbi along the Imphal-Jiribam highway.

The truck drivers yesterday alleged that personnel manning the post, nearly 14km from Imphal, had “refused” them passage if each of them failed to fork out Rs 2,000.

“Some personnel told us we cannot go if we do not shell out the money,” a driver said.

The trucks are at present stationed at an oil pump at Patsoi in Imphal West district.

The drivers are waiting for the return of chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who is on a tour.

The Assam Rifles maintained that the trucks were stopped for random checking as personnel manning the post had information that the vehicles could transport weapons hidden under scrap iron.

“There is absolutely no truth in the allegations. It is a routine duty of the troops to check vehicles passing the gate. In the past, we had seized trucks carrying ganja and weapons hidden under scrap iron. We only told the truck drivers to ask the owners of the consignments to turn up for a random search. But nobody came,” an Assam Rifles source said.

The truckers, however, rejected the claim by the Assam Rifles. “The owner is based in Silchar. His representative visited the post yesterday. But personnel manning the post demanded Rs 2,000 for each truck. They are trying to provide shelter to the guilty personnel,” one of them said.

The members of the All Manipur Road Transport Drivers and Motor Workers Union who apprised director-general of police Yumnam Joykumar Singh of the matter yesterday, will meet the police chief again tomorrow.

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