GUWAHATI: In a jibe to Nagaland Governor RV Ravi, major insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) said it does not extort people but levies “legitimate taxes” on them even as it told him that it is a legitimate organisation.
Recently, in a hard-hitting letter to Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio that got leaked on the social media, Ravi had said the unrestrained depredations by over half a dozen organized armed gangs, brazenly running their so-called “governments” and challenging the legitimacy of the state government without any resistance from the state law and order machinery, created a crisis of confidence in the system.
“Law-abiding citizens, be they daily wage earners, petty vendors, businessmen, shop-keepers, owners of restaurants, road construction companies, entrepreneurs or government servants, are made miserable by rampant extortions and violence by the armed gangs. The state government development departments are under duress to give regular ransom to the armed gangs. ‘Town Commands’ of these gangs keep the people in towns and its neighbourhood terrorised,” Ravi, who is also the interlocutor in Naga peace talks, had written.
Reacting to this, the NSCN-IM, which has been in a peace mode since 1997 following its signing of a ceasefire agreement with the Centre, shifted the blame on the “offshoots of pseudo-nationalists. The outfit said it was a “recognized and legitimate national organization of the Naga people and not a gang”.
“What has complicated the situation as seen today is the madness of extortions being carried out by some groups in the guise of freedom fighters. The NSCN-IM did not and does not commit extortion at any point of time but levies legitimate taxes on the people,” the outfit said in a statement.
Criticising Ravi, it maintained that an interlocutor needs to prove himself as a man who stands committed to solve the longest political conflict in the South-East Asia.
“But if he finds pleasure to handle the Naga issue as a law and order problem, he is not the right person to solve the long-standing Indo-Naga problem. Such an Indian interlocutor will rather complicate and prolong the process which is not the desire of both the Indians and the Nagas,” the statement added.
The extremist groups in Nagaland run parallel governments with different ministries, including finance, and they operate out of several states and also Myanmar. They survive on myriad taxes collected from all and sundry.