Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has said extortion rackets are active in the state but assured people that the problem will be solved once talks with militants and insurgent groups are completed.
The menace of extortion by insurgent and fringe groups hinders the state’s development. Extortion and smuggling are major sources of fund generation for militants and insurgent groups in the state.
Singh said a few local goons also pose as insurgents and try to extort money from people.
“I can assure that once talks with various militant groups are completed, the problem (extortion menace) will be solved,” he told a group of visiting journalists Wednesday.
“Many insurgent groups are under Suspension of Operations (SOO), but there are others (who are active),” he said.
In many cases, some in the SOO camps sneak out and indulge in extortion or get others to indulge in the same, Singh said.
An official, however, said security forces have recovered smuggled goods worth Rs 96.3 crore in 2018 till date and stress has been laid on border patrol to neutralise insurgents trying to cross over.
The recoveries include gold worth Rs 23.67 crore, illegal drugs having a market value of Rs 66.85 crore, while wildlife products and forest products accounted for Rs 4.15 crore and Rs 1.67 crore respectively, he said.
In 2017, the recoveries were worth around Rs 50 crore.
“While smuggling of gold and contraband drugs have gone up, that of wildlife and forest products have gone down in recent years,” he said.
Manipur shares a 398-km-long border with Myanmar.
The chief minister said, “We want railways in the state as that will ensure cheaper goods.”
The railways is working on Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal project that would provide rail connectivity to the capital of land-locked Manipur.
The 111-km long project was sanctioned in 2008 and has a deadline of December 2020 to be operational.