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Migrant workers flee Manipur after killings
Published on 16 Jun. 2009 12:10 AM IST
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Hundreds of panic stricken migrant workers have started fleeing Manipur following frequent militant attacks on daily wage earners who don’t belong to the state even as authorities began herding labourers into government relief camps, officials here said Monday. A police spokesperson said up to 200 migrant workers from West Bengal and Bihar had left Manipur over the weekend fearing fresh attacks on non-Manipuri workers. “Despite best attempts at convincing them of adequate security cover, the workers were reluctant to stay back in Manipur,” the police official said. Four migrant workers engaged by local contractors for construction work at the Central Agriculture University here were killed by unidentified militants Thursday, the latest in a string of attacks on labourers from outside. “There is simply no security here as militants are capable of doing anything anywhere. Non-locals are not safe here in Manipur,” said Prabir Mondal, a daily wage earner from West Bengal. Mondal was among 100-odd workers who left Imphal Sunday by bus. “Most of the workers were from West Bengal, Bihar and Assam,” Rajesh Jha, a middle aged construction worker originally hailing from Bihar and was working in Manipur for three years, said as he left Imphal fearing for his life. Authorities meanwhile began herding non-Manipuri daily wage earners into government run relief camps set up here. “We are taking all possible steps to arrest the culprits and ensure security to the workers,” said V. Zathang, the officiating Manipur police chief. Despite the two relief camps set up where an estimated 250 people were put up, migrant workers were jittery. “We are waiting for our dues from our contractors and once we get our money we plan to leave Manipur immediately,” said Subir Das, a worker from Bihar. The immediate provocation for Thursday’s killings was not known, but of late there has been an attack on either Hindi speakers or workers from outside Manipur - at least 20 of them were killed since February in separate incidents in the state. The recent killing of shopkeepers and migrant workers in Manipur has attracted widespread local resentment and criticism against militants.There is palpable sense of fear and insecurity among the people after militants recently gunned down Lalan Thakur, a barber, in front of his saloon in the Wabagai Lamkhai Market, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Kakching police station in Manipur’s Thoubal District. People have appealed for an end to violence in the state. “The killing of innocent people who have done nothing wrong, is beyond my comprehension. Who will look after my two children? I have undergone two surgeries and my health is also deteriorating. I am really worried. I don’t know how I will live,” said Kim, victim Khupkhulen’s wife. “If such activities continue in Manipur, it will create a fear psychosis among the people of the state,” T. Baite, a local resident said. Superintendent of Police of Thoubal District said the police were on high alert and were conducting frequent searches to prevent kidnapping and killings of non-local laborers by militants for monetary demands. There are some 19-odd militant groups active in Manipur, bordering Myanmar, with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy.

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