TODAY -
Curfew pushes many to the brink of desperation
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, August 11 2009: "Ibemma, do you know when the curfew will be relaxed ?," asked 56 year old Memchoubi, a vendor selling vegetables under a makeshift plastic roofed shed.

Memchoubi belongs to Kwaksiphai under Bishnupur district.

She is a vegetable vendor struggling for livelihood along Nagamapal road.

She said, "I cannot stop selling vegetables.

Whatever amount earned from selling vegetables is used for procuring the day's rice besides making up other requirements for agricultural activities.

"Even though I'm taking a great risk by defying the curfew, there is no buyer," she added.

Memchoubi went home day before yesterday and hurried back to Kwairamband Market this morning to sell some vegetables during the brief hours of curfew relaxation.



A vegetable vendor idles away her time with no buyers


However, Memchoubi could not sell any of her vegetables as the curfew relaxation period was already over when she reached here.

"A considerable quantity of vegetables bought from wholesalers have perished.

I'm physically too exhausted in running to and from Kwaksiphai and Imphal.

I wouldn't go home tonight but would put up at my younger sister's place at Tera", Memchoubi said with weary eyes.

This is one of the stories of the hundreds of Memchoubis whose livelihoods have been curtailed and threatened by the prolonged imposition of curfew.

On the day Tehelka came out with the photographs which clearly indicated that Sanjit was killed in a fake encounter and that Rabina and her unborn child were killed during indiscriminate firing by police commandos, the Apunba Lup called for a 48 hours general strike.

A few hours before the general strike came to an end, the Government imposed indefinite in Imphal West and Imphal East districts from 10 pm of August 4 though relaxed for a few hours in between.

The prolonged curfew that came in tandem with the 48 hours general strike have landed thousands of wage earners in a deep sea of trouble.

A large number of women vendors from Bishnupur district who used to sell their goods at Khwairamband market have been literally choked by the continuing curfew.

It is the same with the petty vendors and daily wage earners from other districts who were earning their daily square meals at Khwairamband.

Expecting that the curfew might be lifted soon, large quantities of vegetables, fruits and fishes purchased from wholesalers in Bishnupur district have perished incurring huge losses to the impoverished vendors.

Talking to The Sangai Express, some people, who have been affected to the extreme by the continuing curfew, narrated their tales of distress.

Chilly vendor, Laishram Inaobi said that she bought chillies at Rs 1400 per bag but she lost half of the total quantity because of the curfew.

During the four hours of curfew relaxation today, hundreds of vendors were seen trying to sell out their goods procured from wholesalers.

The customers too were seen their buying daily requirements in haste.

But just as the clock was about to strike 9, the vendors bundled up their goods and hurried away to parking lots lest they were left stranded amidst curfew.

They were in such a hurry that they could not even pack up their goods completely.

Left over vegetables like cabbage, chillies, betel leaves, fruits, potatoes etc could be seen on road sides.

Moreover, basket full of perished vegetables could be seen in makeshift market sheds.

At present, local varieties of rice cost Rs 25 per kg while Super Fine costs Rs 20 per kg.

The situation is more alarming in Khurai Lamlong area.

Rice is almost unavailable to the local people there because of the curfew.

Those who have rice in their granaries are also facing a hard time as they could not mill their rice for all rice-mills remained closed, said Jina, a resident of Khurai Lamlong.

She also demanded immediate lifting of the curfew completely in view of the untold miseries it is causing to the common people.


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