ANALYSIS | Nagas unite against illegal taxation and syndicate mafias
ANALYSIS | Kohima | Nov 01, 2018:
By S. Solomon Shaikh
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) under the aegis of Naga Council Dimapur (NCD) had organised a mass public rally at khermahal point Dimapur against illegal taxation and rampant collections in Dimapur on 31st October.
All the Naga tribes attended the rally wearing their traditional attires as a mark of brotherhood. It was also attended by non Nagas from every religious denominations.
School and college students wearing uniforms, elderly citizens, youths and women's were seen holding placards in various sizes which was written : "One Government one taxation", "Beware extortionists its your last days", "Free Dimapurians from illegal taxation", "Don't test public patience", "We demand free trade", "No unity no taxation" etc and etc.
The messages were displayed in the placards and on attending the rally one can have this clear perceptions of the abounding grievances faced by the people due to the rampant multiple tax collections by Naga outfits, unscrupulous syndicates, unions and various government agencies.
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In his speech, Reverend Moses Murry appealed before the large gathering of several hundreds to support the movement. "This is the voice of the people against taxation and the God fearing people have organised themselves to fight the very diseases plaguing the land. Due to taxation; there is no peace in Nagaland. Nagas and non Nagas will not pay taxes anymore" he resolutely stated.
The convenor of PAC, Vekhosayi Nyekha, who chaired the programme, in his introductory speech lamented that "not a single item is left untouched by Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs ), unscrupulous elements, Unions and Govt agencies too. For everything there is a taxation and it is of multiplying nature. State govt is unconcerned of the happenings".
He spoke about the NNPGs, who he said "had forsaken patriotism and are busy burning midnight oils to mint money by extorting from public one or the other way out. They are destroying their own legacies by involving in these sorts of nefarious tax collections".
Nyekha further pointed out the dubious role of state government which is unable to rein in all these elements and are equal partners in the loot. "Change is needed now for Nagaland. Let's not have the fear of the guns and brows. We shall not remain a mute spectator anymore and not to further test public patience", he lamented.
Nyekha also said that the Government should be a govt in the real sense of the term mandated to serve the people. He warned syndicates, Unions and Lesse and govt agencies to stop thriving under the very nose of the state government.
He further lambasted the central government too which according to him is "responsible for the nexus. There will not be any collections if an early solution is arrived at. No collections solution first".
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He asserted that the people will pay tax but not at the prevailing rates. "Enough is enough. Work to eat. Don't threaten to extract money" said Nyekha.
President of Naga Council Dimapur (NCD) Mr. T. Bangerloba in his speech recollected "the 31 October 2013 gathering at city tower where the slogan of "one government one tax" was adopted and the same slogan has been reaffirmed by NCD in the gathering.
"The motto of NCD is to promote peace and harmony in Dimapur," Bangerloba said further stating that during the visit of PM Narendra Modi on 13th November 2014, NCD had explained to the PM that Dimapur is a Mini India.
He said that 31st Oct is a "red letter day" while urging the public to join and support its fight against multiple taxation and other related issues.
Senior citizen Hekhevi Achumi and member of the Fact Finding Committee (PAC) remarked that the rally was not of an allegation but to furnish before the people the findings of the Fact Finding Committee which investigated in minute details the rampant multiple tax collections.
He said "present UGs are dreaming whole night to make money by taxation". He related a story where Naga National Leader AZ Jami pointed out that out of 100% tax collected 40 % is received by the NNPGs government and 60% is kept by the leasee.
On the entry of vehicles in Dimapur he mentioned some shrieking figures. For a 12 wheeler tax entering Dimapur the tax imposed is Rs.30000. For 18 wheelers it is Rs 38000. Then there is a separate tax for Go-down, agency tax and it keeps on multiplying.
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The syndicates are thriving well in Nagaland. The second hand syndicates charges Rs 3000 and in one year they accumulate 72 lakh for their own. "Second hand clothes are meant for the poor people but this sorts of unscrupulous elements forming syndicates are overburdening the poor people too" he said.
Hekhevi further mentioned that the syndicates of beetle leaves daily collections is Rs 15000. Monthly they collect nearly 5 lakh and yearly 54 lakh are appropriated by these "anti social elements" and for which prices of every products rises abruptly.
He also spoke about the "obnoxious" tax collections by police and traffic of Dimapur. He lamented that "police constables pay Rs. 15 to 20000 per month to OC's for their duty to be posted in check gates. They earn in the check gates. The veterinary department collects 66 lakh from the broiler traders. Nothing has been spared" he added.
"Traffic police charges Rs.100. on bamboo trucks as transit permit. It has been the habitual duty of MVI motor vehicle inspectors to sit around some street corners without a magistrate on duty and extorts the public. Snatching the key and vehicle papers and only on payment they are refunded. That's the mode of business they do" Nyekha said.
He further stated that there are 86 unions in Dimapur and more than 41 unions which are collecting taxes. "There are Dog unions, bamboo, hair cutting , auto union, auto owners union,tomato unions, rickshaw unions, the list of union is unending. Even there is a petrol union in Dimapur", he said.
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He gave a brief descriptions of tax collection by NNPGs and as per the findings of the PAC, it is estimated to be around 400 to 500 crore.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Sungsabeni Jamio, who spoke on behalf of the Naga Woman Hoho Dimapur, asserted "We are not against anyone but against extortionists who has many faces and are regularly feeding on others money."
She too pointed out that all these vicious characters and their methodology of modus operandi should stop.
KK Paul, a senior citizen who spoke on behalf of the non Nagas, stated that a non Naga has no say in the Naga Political matters but encouraged the people to not remain neutral and to listen to their leaders fighting for their rights.
He expressed his pain on the low participation of non Nagas and requested for more participation.
Echoing similar views, P. Plus Lotus, advisor of Central Naga Tribal Council (CNTC), outlined five relevant points which needs to be immediately implemented by the government both in letter and spirit.
1. Ban illegal collections
2. Close down tax offices.
3. Apprehend tax collectors.
4. Legislate an act to determine illegal activities.
5. To implement the three member HK Sema High Powered Committee report on illegal collections.
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Former NCD President, Savi Liegise Advisor of Angami Public Organisation (APO) representing the Tenyemi people stated that in 2013 five years ago, "one govt one tax slogan" was adopted but situations instead of improving rather deteriorated.
He appealed to the people at large that the PAC had been formed to stop illegal taxation and questioned as to who is responsible for the growth of taxation industry which is around 400 to 500 crores annually.
The gathering resolved to wait and watch the move of the State Government even as they expect the Neiphiu Rio led government to do the utmost to bring the state back to its pristine form.
Image Courtesy: Dimapur Today FB Page