Uncertainty looms large in Manipur over the availability of cooking gas as some miscreants claiming themselves to be NSCN-IM cadres allegedly have turned back some 15 empty gas tankers from Maram in Senapati district on Friday. With this recent development, the gas tanker owners have appealed the NSCN-IM to give necessary clarification whether it made any commitment to the cease-fire monitoring cell that the outfit would not disturb gas tankers of Manipur while playing along the Imphal-Kohima highway.
It is worth noting that Manipur chief minister O. Ibobi Singh had assured gas tankers owners sometimes back that the NSCN-IM would not disturb the transporters anymore. On Sunday, drivers of the gas tankers alleged that some individuals claiming themselves to be NSCN-IM cadres had insisted that unless 'godown tax' was paid to the NSCN-IM by the gas distributors there should not be any gas tanker service until Sekmai gas bottling plant in Imphal West.
During the first week of December, the gas tankers had stopped their supply for a while after some elements claiming themselves as cadres of NSCN-IM allegedly turned back more than 10 empty tankers from Maram in Senapati demanding that godown tax be paid. The tankers, however, resumed service on December 29 after a high level government team led by chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh assured a delegation of the tanker owners on December 27 that the cease-fire monitoring cell in Dimapur assured the state government that the NSCN (IM) would not disturb Manipur gas tankers.
According to reports, Manipur police detained two tanker drivers on Friday for more information after the tankers were turned back allegedly by NSCN (IM) cadres demanding tax. The drivers of gas tankers are frustrated despite the assurance made by the Manipur government that NSCN-IM would not hinder tanker movement the disturbance continues. Transporters from Manipur are presently refiling gas from Assam and the bottling plant at Sekmai in Imphal West.