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Naga rebels' parallel govt pockets taxes

Naga rebels' parallel govt pockets taxes

Author: Prasanta Mazumdar
Publication: The New Indian Express
Date: November 1, 2009
URL: http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?title=Naga%20rebels%E2%80%99%20parallel%20govt%20pockets%20taxes&artid=0/mOB4Jt3Jw=&type=

Introduction: Under the shadow of guns, it is not only the businessmen alone

The collection of taxes by various separatist groups appears to have become legitimate in Nagaland, a state ravaged by insurgency over the years.

Apparently, under the shadow of guns, it is not the businessmen alone - government employees, even the lawmakers, as claimed by one of the outfits, pay taxes, though 'clandestinely,' to the insurgents in Nagaland.

"Yes, we collect taxes not just from the businessmen but also from government employees and even ministers. We also collect donations from well-wishers," said Kughalu Mulatonu, leader of the Khaplang faction of Naga extremist group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), at its camp at Khehoi, 40 km east of Dimapur.

However, he stopped short of divulging the amount his outfit collects from a minister each year. Government employees in the state are required to pay taxes to almost all insurgent groups - in some cases 25 percent of their salary to a group annually. "But we never extort," Mulatonu clarified.

According to him, any crime committed in the name of the 'nation' is not a crime.

However, he said an anti-social act committed at individual-level is tantamount to a crime.

"We have promised the Union Home Secretary in-charge of the North-East that any of our cadres, if found indulging in extortion at their own level, would be punished," Mulatonu said.

He said no government under the sun could survive without collecting taxes from its citizens.

"Even the Government of India collects taxes from its citizens," he argued.

Hundreds of prominent businessmen fled from Nagaland over the years owing to the menace of extortion by the rebels.

All extremist groups in Nagaland run parallel government called Government of the People's Republic of Nagaland/Nagalim and they have departments such as agriculture, education, law, finance, home, crime suppression etc. "It is obvious that you need big money to run a big organization," Mulatonu said.

The outfit, according to him, spends the money to meet organisational expenses.

In 2007, the NSCN (Khaplang) received a shot in the arm when a breakaway faction of the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) joined its fold.

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