On Thursday, a day-long strike was organised by the shops and commercial establishments of Nagaland against the collection of “taxes” by the armed groups.
Every businessmen and trader in Nagaland have to pay illegal tax to the armed groups in Nagaland. This trend has been running from many years.
The traders are required to pay multiple taxes to as many as 10 armed groups, including the well-known factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland/ Nagalim or NSCN.
For several years, the traders are paying the taxes to the militant groups but now they are speaking up. On Thursday, the strike called by the traders and businessmen of Nagaland have affected the state and a strong message has been given to the militant outfits against the illegal tax.
There is hardly any resistance from the government. In fact, successive governments have remained blind to this deeply-rooted malaise that is affecting the lives of all and sundry.
The Confederation of Nagaland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CNCCI) asked the Neiphiu Rio government to act if it feels this is an illegal activity.
The traders in the country pay one tax (GST) but those in Nagaland are required to pay 12-13 taxes.
Khekugha Muru, CNCCI, chairman said, “We have asked the government to clarify if this is legal or illegal. If the government says this is illegal, it has to control this with the help of resources and manpower that it has at its disposal. If the government says it is legal, we have to increase the prices of commodities manifold because we have to survive.”
Muru added the crux of the problem was the unresolved Naga political issue. He said the Government of India, Naga armed groups, and the state government should have a will to settle the Naga issue. If the problem is settled, there will then be just one tax.
The rebel groups in Nagaland run parallel governments and they have ministries and “kilonsers” (ministers). Some of the groups are accused of indulging in gunrunning and drugs trade by the central agencies.