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Last Updated: Monday, 14 April, 2003, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Indian rebels ban tobacco
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC correspondent in Calcutta

Rebels in the Indian state of Manipur have banned the sale and use of tobacco.

Indian troops on the Manipur-Burma border
Indian troops have less influence than the rebel groups
The state's leading rebel group, the Revolutionary Peoples Front (RPF), has said anyone disobeying the new ban will face what it called "serious consequences".

The RPF takes a strong stance on any form of drugs and has traditionally taken on a policing role in the state which borders Burma.

Other outlawed groups have supported the ban.

In the past, RPF rebels have shot film producers and actresses for their involvement with pornographic films and executed a number of drug peddlers.

'Dangerous'

They are also believed to be behind an unofficial prohibition on alcohol that is in place throughout the state.

On Sunday, the RPF issued a proclamation against the sale and consumption of smoking or chewing tobacco, which the RPF says "is dangerous to health".

Man smoking (generic)
All kinds of tobacco have been banned by the rebels
The edict said that anyone ignoring the RPF's order could expect to be punished without warning.

Another rebel group, the outlawed Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) has supported the RPF's ban.

The RPF is perhaps the most powerful rebel army in Manipur, which is fighting for an independent homeland for the Metei majority community in the north-eastern state.

Besides cigarettes, tobacco products known locally as khaini and zarda are commonly used.

Last September, two drug traffickers were executed by the RPF in the state as part of a campaign by the RPF and the KYKL against all kinds of trafficking and addiction, including alcoholism.

They have also made efforts to stamp out corruption.

Earlier this year, the KYKL also prohibited women in Manipur from wearing trousers or saris in public and warned that those disobeying the ruling would face the death penalty.

More than 10,000 people have lost their lives to the insurgency in Manipur in the past two decades.


SEE ALSO:
Rebels kill five Indian soldiers
11 Feb 03  |  South Asia
Indian rebels deny base captured
13 Jan 03  |  South Asia
Manipur seeks border protection
13 Jun 02  |  South Asia
Indian rebels admit kidnapping
26 Mar 02  |  South Asia


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