IMPHAL November 30: Post the explosion which occurred today morning at the gates of the Sangai Tourism Festival, the foreign delegates from Kenya and Thailand running stalls at the festival voiced their discontent at the violent episode.
Talking to IFP, they condemned the incident as barbaric and senseless.
Mariah from Kenya who sells ethnic Kenyan jewellery among other items said, “These angry people are behaving like animals, I hate the person who did this and curse him in the name of my God, he will also be judged by God for his deed. Today would have been a nice last day and this happened, I pray for the soul of the person who died”.
On a similar note, Zarin P Bhesania, trade advisor of the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand also voiced her discontent, “ We feel insecure, when you invite a foreign delegate, the Manipur government should be more careful in the security arrangements. Someone also came to our stall and told us close down as there was a strike”. Mentioning the poor turnout of customers due to the imposed strike she added, “For some days, there has been strike, we are not selling enough as expected. The Manipuri people are very nice and hospitable and we feel at home but such act of bombing at a public place is an act of terrorism and nothing else”, she said.
Even as the crowd trickled in the evening, local vendors also voiced discontent over the low sales. Ibungo Tensubam, an ice cream seller also said that due to the strike, he has hardly been able to sell his product. “I sell about Rs 500 per day only, whereas I deposited Rs 14,000 for the stall. The general strikes have affected the sales tremendously, we are angry but don’t know who to blame”, he said.
Tourism minister TN Haokip also told IFP, “We have appealed, but the foreigners are scared and said they wanted to go, but we reassured them stating that adequate security measures have been taken up, but they are apprehensive as such incidents are unusual in their land. The blast sends a wrong signal and moreover had a negative impact on the foreign participants, this is a loss for the state. In such an occasion, harmful activities as such hinders tourism aspects, when for development of the state, we need to promote tourism”, he said.
Interestingly, families started thronging the festival hours after the explosion. Beigyachandra, a government official who came with his children when asked if he had no apprehensions to bring his family in the aftermath of a blast said, “I had promised to take the children to the festival today. It’s sad that such an eventful occasion has to conclude with such a bitter taste. We came hoping that lightning won’t struck twice at the same place, after all we are sort of getting used to these random bomb blasts”, he said.
However, in the evening, a kilometer long queue was witnessed outside the Sangai Festival as eager youngsters queued up to witness the conclusive festivities, but due to stringent frisking measures at the entrance, the line moved at a snail’s pace. Majority of the standing line was also dispersed by police personnel on grounds that the festival would conclude at 7 pm.