Activists of the All Manipur Students' Union (AMSU) are raiding godowns of traders in and around Imphal in a bid to disgorge what they allege are hoarded stocks and to ease an artificial shortage of consumer items.

Scarcity persists although the 68-day-long Naga tribal blockade of National Highways 39 and 53, lifelines of Manipur, was suspended on June 18.

It was alleged that the traders did not cooperate with AMSU activists and women vigilantes, and so the padlocks had to be smashed to inspect the godowns. Huge quantities of rice, sugar, pulses, potatoes, salt, and edible oil were found in 30 godowns. An AMSU spokesman said the raids would continue.

A few days ago the police arrested some AMSU activists who were checking the price list in shops.

The AMSU said the prices of consumer items had soared. Rice was being sold at Rs 30 a kg and potato Rs 28, for example. Even a matchbox cost Rs 2.

Petrol pumps are still remaining closed and vehicle owners are buying petrol at Rs 120 a litre from roadside vendors.The All Manipur Anti-Drug Association (AMADA) has also been organising public meetings on the issue of price rise. It had demanded revival of the Price Fixation Committee to contain the price rise.

The Centre-run Regional Institute of Medical Sciences here has announced that all MRI facilities have been suspended indefinitely. During the blockade of the highways, helium gas, required for operating the MRI machine, could not be brought to the State. Even after suspension of the Naga protest, big tankers cannot operate on NH 53. The PWD has announced that the highway will be blocked for five days to repair rickety suspension bridges. On top of it, a tribal students' organisation has called a 48-hour strike from Friday.