Nagaland anti-graft group seeks Governor’s help to end ‘taxation’

NGO says members of extremist groups were colluding with transport unions to maintain their hold on illegal and unabated taxation

An anti-graft group has sought Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi’s intervention in checking unabated taxation by extremist groups and corruption in the State.

The Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT), a collective of community leaders, students, traders and former bureaucrats, was formed in 2013 to end the culture of “taxation”, a euphemism for extortion or donation.

It had annoyed the “Naga political groups”, primarily the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, or NSCN (IM), with a series of rallies and protests asking all the outfits to come up with a common mechanism for sparing the people from paying “multiple taxes to multiple groups”.

‘Govt is indifferent’

In a letter to the Governor on September 15, ACAUT leaders Tia Longchar, Simon Kelio and Hetoi Chishi said the government had turned a blind eye to the illegal taxation.

Their grievance has assumed significance after the Governor’s June 16 letter to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, stating that “armed gangs” were running parallel governments and extorting people at gunpoint.

Most groups protested being labelled as “gangs”. The NSCN (IM) took offence and demanded the ouster of Mr. Ravi, who is also the Centre’s interlocutor for the Naga peace process that began in 1997.

The ACAUT said unscrupulous people in transport unions were hand in glove with some members of the Naga political groups that want the illegal and unabated taxation to continue.

“It has been observed that orders and diktats are issued by these groups to ensure only certain transports can carry particular goods and items at rates that are far above prescribed rates. Those not complying with such impositions are harassed with summons and end up paying heavy fines,” it stated.

Unjustified transportation charges

Business houses and shopkeepers have been compelled to pay unjustified transportation charges due to the illegal syndicates. “This has only resulted in upward spiral of prices of essential commodities causing tremendous suffering to the general public,” it pointed out.

The ACAUT also termed shameful that various unions and associations from Assam had reprimanded the Nagaland government for not checking illegal taxes being collected by its own law-enforcing agencies and underground outfits at designated points and gates in spite of GST receipts being produced.

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