TODAY -
Prolonged curfew hits daily wagers' stomach
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Thingnam Anjulika Samom

Imphal, August 11 2009: The ongoing curfew imposed by the state government since August 4 last in the wake of the BT Road killing and the Tehelka expos´┐Ż to be lifted, the restriction is taking its toll on the common people, especially the daily wage earners.

Even though they rushed to sell their pitiable wares during the brief curfew respite from 5 am to 9 am, women vendors who sell vegetables in the markets to earn a livelihood for themselves and their families are facing a huge loss.

Piles of rotting vegetables - cabbages, tomatoes, bitter gourd, potatoes, chives, etc - could be found lying on the sides of the roads as the women hastily re-packed their belongings to head homewards.

While many left their vegetable baskets in the market sheds, some whose houses were nearer stayed back to sell their wares behind the jute and plastic curtains sheilding the market sheds from the main road.

Sixty-five years old Memchoubi from Bishnupur who has been selling vegetables for nearly forty years now at Khwai Nagamapal Keithel, stayed back to sell her little wares - a few bunches of ikaithabi and yendem, some brinjals and u-morok.

"I wasn't able to sell it all, so I stayed back as at my age it is hard to make it to the bus-stand amid the curfew re-impostion rush.

I will be staying with at my sister's house at Tera tonight," she says.

Forty-year old L.Inao of Tera Khuraijam Leirak has lost nearly Rs.5000/- out of the Rs.10,000/- she had invested in her u-morok business.

"We shift through the chilli, what we can sell we pick out and what has rotted we either dry in the sun or throw it away," she says.

When this reporter asked if she wasn't afraid of walking back to her home during the curfew, she replied, "What to do? We don't do anything to them, they won't do anything to us.

But this (selling u-morok) feeds my children." Inao's husband is a chowkidar looking after the market during the nights.

She has seven children.

Within the localities stories are rife of local shops running out of things to sell.

"The mills have closed down and rice too is hard to get even though the price is still Rs 25 per kilogram," says Kh Jina of Khurai Thoidingjam Leikai.

Jina, an entrepreneur making and selling soaps, bags and other creative items, is also bearing the brunt of the curfew as her income depends mainly on people coming and buying her items.

"We managed to buy one kilo of rice yesterday, and we are having that with fried peas," she adds.

For fifty year old Rasi who sells singju and kanghou near Singjamei Supermarket, curfew has resulted in her selling singju without ngari besides a huge loss of income.

"I used to get around a hundred every day from selling singju and kanghou to the shopkeepers of the supermarket.

Now I hardly get ten to twenty rupees.

Moreover today as I am selling singju without ngari as I failed to buy it during the brief curfew respite," she says.

What happened on July 23rd is an unfortunate and shocking thing.

We are also unhappy with it.

Instead of resorting to curfew, it would be better if the state government give in to the people's demand for justice," she adds.


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