Imphal: Several betel leaves imported into Manipur from Assam via Mizoram were confiscated by male village volunteers and destroyed in a fire by the Meira Paibis (women vigilante groups) at Moirang Lamkhai in Bishnupur district on Saturday night.
As many as 10 baskets of betel leaves were reportedly being transported by an alleged smuggler named Md Abdul Khalip, 34, from Silchar, Assam, via Aizawl, Mizoram.
The betel leaves were to be transported to Imphal via Aizawl, Churachandpur, and Kwakta village on Saturday.
After receiving a tip-off that Khalip, a resident of Kwakta village, Bishnupur district, Manipur, was engaged in the transportation of betel leaves, the village volunteers waylaid the transport vehicle and confiscated the imported items.
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They then handed them over to the Meira Paibis of Bishnupur district, who set the betel leaves on fire in the presence of media personnel at around 11 pm on Saturday.
Geeta Devi, a leader of the Meira Paibis, appealed to the people, especially the Muslims (Manipuri) and the Kukis, not to indulge in the transportation of such items against the backdrop of the ongoing communal violence in the state.
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Betel leaves are widely consumed in Manipur and by some emigrants. They are consumed as betel quid or in paan.
The betel plant is an evergreen perennial with glossy heart-shaped leaves and white catkin. The demand for betel leaves is very high in Manipur.
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