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MOREH TRADERS HARD HIT BY EXTORTION MENACE
Moreh, Nov, 5: Extortion in the form of illegal taxes
collected both by the Kuki militants and government
agencies has become a major source of concern for the
traders in Moreh.
The Morning Bazaar, the town's main market, located near
the border gate number 2, has been operating for many years
while the Namphalong market in Myanmar just across the
border started functioning in April this year. The distance
between the two markets is hardly 300 meters. But, the
prosperous Namphalong market is free of militants threat.
Indian traders here find the Namphalong market much cheaper
than the Morning Bazaar, where prices of goods are higher
because of the illegal taxes imposed by the Kuki militants.
The situation has been made worse by the government
agencies, who also collect their dues from the market.
Goods sold in the Morning Bazaar are mostly of foreign
origin and do not figure in the list of Indo-Myanmar trade
agreement. Nearly 4,000 people of the state benefit from
this trade and it also solves unemployment problem to a
According to the traders, the difference in prices of goods
between Morning Bazaar and Namphalong market ranges from
Rs. 10 to Rs. 15 per item. Businessmen at Morning Bazaar
are forced to sell goods at high prices to pay the various
This has resulted in huge losses for the country as trading
has shifting to Namphalong since April, "Kuki militants
collect Rs. 10,000 from each shopkeeper in Morning Bazaar
every year as annual tax besides the ragular monthly
collection." says a trader. There are more than 100 shops
in the market. Shopkeepers pay nearly Rs. 1,500 per month
to various groups ranging from Kuki militants to Indian
Customs and Police officials.
At Namphalong Bazaar, which was recently gutted, a
shop-keeper has to pay only a monthly rent of 70 Kyats to
the Myanmarese authorities.
The Morning Bazaar commanded brisk business when the
Myanmarese trading centre was located at Tamu town. An
Indian trader and to spent Rs. 32 as Indian police's gate
pass, Rs. 10 to the Myanmarese immigration officials as
entry fee and Rs. 20 as fare.
Nearly 1,500 people cross the border every day from the
Indian side. "Namphalong has given gain to traders in fare
component and low prices of goods," says Mr Loitongbam
Imobi Singh of Meitei Council, Moreh (MCM). But, it has
affected the trading at Morning Bazaar.
Mr Imobi said Manipuris wanted restoration of normal border
trade. The border has been sealed since October 12 after
the burning of the Namphalong market. He said his
organization was ready to contribute Rs. 50,000 for the
reconstruction of the Myanmarese market.
A Tamil trader, however, said the market should be built at
least one kilometre away from the present site. He said it
would enable the Myanmarese authorities to provide proper
security to the complex.
The superintendent of police, Chandel, Mr. Manglemjao
Singh, said the situation would be normal soon as his
meeting with the Myanmarese authorities had been fruitful.
(From Oinam Sunil, Nov, 6th 1997 the Telegraph.)
News and Information Bureau, All Burma Students League
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