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NREGS workers protest extortion
Correspondent IMPHAL, JUN 7:
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Published on 7 Jun. 2009 11:27 PM IST
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National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) workers in Manipur on Sunday joined the sit-in protest staged by the panchayat members in Imphal west against “unbearable” monetary demand served by the militants. A group of Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) demanded payment of Rs 15 lakh from the development funds allocated to Imphal west-1 Zilla Parishad, according to pradhan participating in the sit-in protest carried out at Changangei village of Imphal west. Altogether around 500 NREGS workers along with the pradhans and members of the panchayat took part in the sit-in protest staged at three villages of Changangei, Kamong and Malom in Imphal west district. “We are participating in the protest as the militant group demanded a part of the fund allocated to the panchayats for payment of our daily wages,” said Ibeni Devi NREGS worker. “No unreasonable demand to panchayat, don’t press the panchayat siphon funds, no demand from the wages of the poor NREGS works,” etc. were displayed at the protest site which commenced from around 10 am in all the three places and went on till 4 pm. A pradhan who did not want to be named said that meeting the demand will amount to suspension of all developmental activities including the NREGs work programmes. “Let the panchayat alone to do developmental works and serve the people. Why they are turning towards taking up developmental works and the poor villagers,” the pradhan urged. In Manipur, this was not the first case where militants interfered in NREGS and panchayat activities by way of demanding siphon of funds allocated to them. There had been instances of calling up pradhans and members of the panchayat in Imphal east for defying in payment of money demanded by them. In the recent incident, as many as seven pradhans from Imphal east district were taken captivity by a group of militants in connection with the handing over of developmental funds allocated to them by the government under various rural development schemes. Not ended with this, residents of pradhan had also been targeted with bombs and guns for not meeting the demands put forward by the militant outfits. A huge mass protest against the monetary demand of the militants is also being planned on Monday in Imphal west district, according the pradhans participating in the sit-in protest.

 
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