Imphal, Feb 2:
Three major civil society organizations in the state staged a sit-in protest demonstration today, demanding exemption from income tax and all forms of loan interest for the people of Manipur during the crisis period that started on May 3, 2023.
The Meetei/Meitei Tribe Union (MTU), Meitei Pangal Welfare Organization, and Awang Sekmai Advance Women’s Society organized the protest demonstration at Keishampat Leimajam Leikai Community Hall this afternoon, holding placards with their demands.
Speaking to this reporter at the protest site, Mutum Churamani, Secretary Administration of the Meitei Tribe Union, said that almost all sections of people have been severely affected by the ongoing crisis. Employees in both the state and central government are facing extreme difficulties in paying income tax, as they have been contributing large sums of money from their salaries to provide assistance to the approximately 70,000 affected people taking refuge in various relief camps. Additionally, people running businesses with loans from government banks are facing even greater burdens. Some are experiencing extreme hardship, as business transactions have decreased by 80% compared to normal days. Those whose houses and business establishments were destroyed or vandalized and have loans from banks have no means of retrieving income and are currently in relief camps, unable to conduct their business for almost 9 months. Women who earn small amounts of money by producing handloom materials with loans are also unable to repay the money, as the market has completely failed. Brickfields are unable to survive, as transportation of firewood or charcoal has been halted, leaving daily wage workers without income. Small-time entrepreneurs cannot continue their business, as the market has almost collapsed. Transporters who provide services on National Highways, either with passenger buses or goods trucks, are unable to pay their EMIs. In short, all sections of the population are affected, and those who relied on loans from banks are the hardest hit in today’s Manipur.
Churamani further stated that, considering the extreme hardships faced by the people, the government of India should exempt loan interest during times of crisis and extend the maturity period. For those whose business establishments and houses were burned or vandalized, and who were forced to stay in relief camps, Churamani said that the government should waive their loans.
Churamani also reminded that the government granted an extension of EMIs during the COVID pandemic and the Naga Kuki clashes in the state.