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‘Taxation’ during economic blockade
IFP Editorial: The Ceasefire Monitoring Group turns a blind eye to the illegal taxation going on right under the noses of the security forces, as long as it does not pose a security threat.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated on 24 Nov 2021, 9:29 pm

Representational Image (PHOTO: IFP)

Representational Image (PHOTO: IFP)

 

Is it not a little strange that armed miscreants suspected to be NSCN (I-M) cadres should be out in the highway harassing truck drivers in the name of tax collection when a full-blown economic blockade of the highways are in force? A team of Manipur special commando unit rescued one goods truck driver who was detained and physically assaulted allegedly by suspected NSCN (I-M) members at Merryland Part 5 along Imphal-Jiribam national highway at about 3 pm on Tuesday. Police reported that the special commando team was going along the national highway on official duty when it saw a goods truck parked on the roadside along the national highway at Merryland part 5 which falls under the jurisdiction of Noney police station. Manipur had seen enough economic blockades on its national highways in the past and it was mostly about miscreants or blockade enforcers stopping goods carrying trucks or checking bus passengers for any ‘banned’ items. There were several instances of armed supporters of the economic blockades ambushing trucks escorted by police and security forces and other incidents of even pushing down fully loaded trucks into deep gorges. The hilly terrain is such that there are so many chokehold points on the highway and truckers fear ferrying goods on these highways even if they were escorted by security forces. Simply because there is no guarantee that they will not be attacked or singled out or when mechanical problems develop with the vehicles. Yet we must say, acts of forcible tax collection or attempts during such economic blockades are quite unheard of in the past.

Even as the ATSUM enforced economic blockade began, trucks loaded with goods stranded beyond Mao were safely brought on the Imphal-Dimapur road by armed escorts on Tuesday to Imphal. On the other hand, police commandos were able to rescue the truck waylaid at Merryland near Noney as they were on ROP or area domination patrol on the Imphal-Jiribam highway because of the officials returning from the Go to Village event at Jiribam. Fact is, those who are engaged in forcible collection of illegal taxes on the highways never care much about bandhs or blockades. They rule the highways as security forces stationed on the highways often turn a blind eye to such ‘taxation’ or extortion activities. Some time ago, NSCN (I-M) said it is pointless to level false allegations on collection of taxes by the Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim (GPRN) adding that collection of taxes by a Government from its citizens is a legitimate right. The then Nagaland Governor and Government of India Interlocutor for Naga peace talks RN Ravi had reacted by saying that the Government of India does not recognise collection of ‘tax’ by any other entity other than by it or a State Government. The state of Manipur had long been a victim of the illegal taxation by NSCN (I-M) and other factions. Many a time, long-distance truckers are beaten up and tortured for not paying taxes, both annual and per trip, while plying on the national highways. Even though the operation of the ceasefire between GOI and NSCN (I-M) is ‘officially’ limited to the state of Nagaland, the writ of NSCN (I-M) runs almost everywhere in the hill districts of Manipur. One is astonished at the sheer audacity of claiming taxation as a matter of right by the group. Everyone knows that the NSCN groups have been collecting illegal taxation all along, before and after the ceasefire and the state of Manipur had been complaining against it. The Ceasefire Monitoring Group turns a blind eye to the illegal taxation going on right under the noses of the security forces, as long as it does not pose a security threat.

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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