NEW DELHI: Slapping court cases against those who organise bandhs to recover the losses suffered by the economy can help keep such shutdowns in check, says former Manipur Chief Secretary Jarnail Singh.
In his soon-to-be-released book “My Tryst with Manipur: A Memoir”, Jarnail Singh says his experience of working in Manipur showed that governments would find it difficult to file a case against bandh organisers to recover economic losses.”The political leadership would, more often than not, negotiate rather than incur the wrath of a group or community by going for a court case,” says the author, who later went on to work in the Prime Minister’s Office. “In such a situation, it could perhaps be best if some public spirited individual or individuals file a case or cases in the High Court and force the organisers of bandhs or economic blockades to compensate for the loss. “In such a case, of course, the State government could also be made a party to the case.”
During his posting in Manipur, Jarnail Singh realised that the state had been experiencing an unending number of bandhs and blockades called by different organisations or Joint Action Committees. Such shutdowns caused inconvenience to the public and disrupted local commerce and trade. The worst hits were wage earners and petty traders.
The IAS officer thought it would be best to calculate the financial loss suffered by the society and initiate legal cases to recover the money from the leaders of the groups calling and enforcing the shutdowns. He said that there were bandhs for 80 days in 2004-05, for 145 days in 2005-06 and for 119 days in 2006-07. The loss per day in 2004-05 was Rs 5.34 crore, going up to Rs 6.13 crore per day in 2005-06 and further to Rs 6.88 crore each day in 2006-07. The loss per day on account of blockades of National Highways ranged from Rs 2.32 crore to Rs 3.01 crore during this period. All this meant, Jarnail Singh says in his book, that the total economic loss suffered by Manipur from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2007, was a whopping Rs 1,319 crore. (IANS)