By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, May 13: Many quarters have questioned if the civilian authorities concerned have handed over Imphal-Moreh highway to the Assam Rifles completely.
For many years, Assam Rifles have been checking and frisking both vehicles and people at Tengnoupal and Khudengthabi which usually takes a very long time. Moreover, the paramilitary force has been using a token system for vehicles to cross their check post.
With the successive State Governments including the incumbent one saying nothing to what Assam Rifles troops have been doing on Imphal-Moreh highway which constitutes a key section of the Asian Highway 2, many people have started asking whether the Assam Rifles enjoy lordship over the democratically elected Government.
The tedious and time consuming checking and verification at Tengnoupal/Khudengthabi is nothing but harassment of civilians. It not only undermines the Government of India’s Act East Policy but also has turned out to be a serious setback to the cross border trade between India and Myanmar, said a group of people travelling on the highway.
Notably, the strategic significance of the border town of Moreh and Imphal-Moreh highway for India’s economic growth and terrestrial connection with South East Asian countries has been acknowledged and highlighted repeatedly by many Indian leaders.
However, troops of 12 Assam Rifles have been checking vehicles and people at Tengnoupal as well as Khudengthabi since many years back thereby wasting a lot of time for both travellers and traders.
Apart from Indians or Manipuris travelling from Imphal to Moreh, Myanmar tourists travelling to Imphal have been enduring the same irritating and time consuming token system. The matter has been already highlighted to the Chief Minister, said the group of travellers.
Vehicles travelling from Imphal are registered in an entry book of Assam Rifles at Tengnoupal where they are issued tokens and the same tokens must be handed over to Assam Rifles troops at their Khudengthabi check post. There too, vehicles are registered again in another entry book.
Likewise, vehicles heading to Imphal from Moreh must be registered at Khudengthabi where tokens are issued which must be handed over to Assam Rifles check post at Tengnoupal. In case, the tokens issued by Assam Rifles get lost in between the two check posts, the vehicles may have to turn back to the check posts where the tokens are issued. This may also entail serious problems for both drivers and travellers alike, said the group of travellers adding that the token system make all travellers and drivers ill at ease.
Notably, a signboard put up at the Assam Rifles’ Khudengthabi check post says that the gate can be crossed between 6 am and 4.30 pm.
Although it is said that all paramilitary forces including Assam Rifles stationed in the State are sent here to assist the State Government in maintaining law and order, Assam Rifles have been harassing all people on Imphal-Moreh highway at their sweet will for the past many years.
Some other people pointed that Assam Rifles have been harassing not only local people but also foreign tourists.
They then sought immediate attention of the Government and see that Assam Rifles are restrained from committing undue harassment of civilians on Imphal-Moreh highway at the earliest. At present, hundreds of vehicles can be seen waiting for their turns to be registered and checked at the Assam Rifles check posts under the scorching heat, they pointed out. They further highlighted the need to ensure smooth movement of people and vehicles if the State’s tourism sector should be promoted effectively.