A trader based in Imphal told ET, “Manipur has had scores of militant groups over the years. Extortion from militant outfits had drastically come down. The violence has brought back the extortion spree. Almost daily we get extortion demands from one or the other groups. We have approached security forces, but they are helpless. On a couple of occasions, patrol and security pickets were posted. However, things are back to the same. We are witnessing the same situation as in 2007-08 when there was an extortion spree.”
Another businessman said, “Earlier, businessmen from outside, and who have settled here, were targeted for extortion. Now, the situation is different. Businessmen from across different communities are targeted. It is impossible to meet the extortion demand ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.”
A trader in Thoubal said, “We have no other option but to relocate. There is hardly any business activity, and it is almost impossible to meet the extortion demands. Cadres approach us with arms in shops and godowns. Grenades are planted when extortion money is not given. At times, militants come in the guise of security forces.”
A senior police officer, who did not want to be named, told ET, “We are dealing with it as and when a complaint is raised. It may be that militants are taking advantage of the situation. But the police is very firm and making every effort to ensure that there is no forced donation.”
Sources in security agencies said in the wake of the violence, groups such as the United National Liberation Front, People’s Liberation Army and Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup have become active. There are several hill-based outfits too.