Bullet trucks decry Government inaction


IMPHAL, Jan 19: A sit in protest was today held in front of Sekmai Bottling Plant by drivers of Bullet tankers demanding action from the government regarding the incident of the missing of two drivers alongwith a handyman of a Bullet tanker with registration no MN 01/6093 which has been allegedly kidnapped by Karbi People Liberation on January 16 at around 3:30 pm from Garam Pani area in between Karbi Anglong and Golaghat district under Golaghat PS of Assam.
Naorem Dilip, representative of the drivers while speaking to media persons, has cited that around 75 bullet tankers without security cover was passing through Assam on the night of January 16. In between the journey, a newly formed militant group Karbi People’s Liberation based around the area had singled out the unfortunate tanker and hijacked it along with its two drivers and the handy man after the refusal of A Hemanta Sharma of Lamsang presently staying in Gandhi Avenue, the owner of the Bullet tanker to yield to their monetary demand of Rs 50 lakhs.
He further added that even though the singled out tanker has been recovered on the same day at around 9:30 pm by Golaghat Police, the whereabouts of the missing three individuals are yet to be ascertain.
The two missing drivers have been identified as Arun, 40 and Jiten, 29 both residents of Sekmai Kaujengleima while the handy man has been identified as Suresh alias Nanao,19, of Kakching, presently residing in Sekmai.
The representative further stated that the same newly formed Millitant outfit had already put a monetary demand of Rs 10,000 as annual tax to all the other 75 bullet tankers; however the outfit had single out the unfortunate tanker and had made the huge demand of Rs 50 lakhs.
Further decrying the practice of illegal tax collection which is fast catching up on the Assam stretch of the NH 39, the drivers added that other organizations like the Karbi Autonomous Council has started collecting an illegal tax of Rs 300/400 each from the passing tankers.
The drivers have further maintained that as Assam is regarded peaceful, the CRPF escort is only up to Khatkhati, beyond which the truckers are left to fend for themselves against the extortionist State and non-State uniform men manning the various check points that dots the highway which has resulted in various inconveniences of the truckers as is evident from the present situation of the truck hijack.
In the meantime, the drivers of the Bullet tankers had started their cease-work strike from the next day of the incident on January 17.
The only route that is tenable as of now is National Highway 53 which the government of Manipur must prioritize, he appealed, and until such time as the abducted members of the transporters are not released “we will not ply on National Highway 39.”
Mention may be made that the transporters have refused to take National Highway 39 for ferrying goods since January 17, 2011.
Despite the security escorts, the truckers are not immune to extortion. As a matter of fact,  Dilip said.

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