GUWAHATI: In insurgency-ravaged Nagaland, the people have finally put the onus of stopping extortion on the Neiphiu Rio government.
In continuing with protests against illegal taxation, thousands of people hit the streets of commercial hub Dimapur on Wednesday. It will be a litmus test for the Rio government in which BJP legislator Y Patton is the deputy chief minister and also the home minister.
The protesters reaffirmed an earlier resolution that people would pay taxes to only one insurgent group.
"The state government must immediately stop all illegal taxation and rampant collections on various goods and services, transporters, entry fees on vehicles, item-wise tax on goods, dealers, stockiest and retailers. The government must also take immediate steps to check and ban syndicate and lease system, unauthorized collection centres operating in and around Dimapur district by various unions and organisations including Naga political groups (rebel groups) and state government agencies resulting in uncontrolled inflation on all prices," some organisations, protesting the illegal collection of taxes, said in a joint resolution at the end of the rally.
They said people would support the settlement to the decades-old Naga political issue vis-à-vis insurgency issue but not taxation.
"The general public strongly resolved to stand united beyond tribe, community and social position against the menace of illegal collection of tax.which has crippled and threatened the very survival of the citizens. It is further resolved that in the process of pursuing social justice and reforms, any forms of threat, pressure or intimidation to the leaders or members from any agencies will be considered as undermining the voice and patience of the people, whereby the public will stand united and fight such forces and will not remain as mute spectators anymore but will initiate appropriate response as deem fit," they warned.
It is the fear of the gun that traders and even government employees in the state pay taxes to the outfits. The government employees are required to pay taxes to almost all the insurgent groups - in some cases 25 per cent of their one month's salary to a group annually. All rebel groups in Nagaland run parallel government and they have various departments.