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Citizens prevent illegal taxations in check gates

PAC volunteers
PAC volunteers at New Field Check Gate on Monday

Immediate drop in prices of goods in Dimapur market reported

DIMAPUR, SEPTEMBER 16: Citizen volunteers under the aegis of Public Action Committee (PAC) of Naga Council Dimapur today stopped all illegal collection of tax (money) by State Government departments, underground groups and unions/associations in all the three check gates in Dimapur, which had an immediate effect in the market with reduction in prices (upto 50% to 100%) on most goods, particularly on perishable commodities.
Hundreds of volunteers drawn from different tribes garbed in traditional attires stationed in the three entry points into Dimapur early Monday morning from 5 am to 7 am to stop incoming vehicles (trucks) from paying unauthorized taxes to any organizations and Government departments, including police.
Many Government departments, underground groups and unions/associations have set up collection booths near check gates and have been collecting money with impunity right in front of the State police, who themselves are the main culprit in the illegal activity. Interestingly many collection booths were found closed Monday morning.
“Today during our picketing we have found many Government departments office in the check gates were closed and underground collectors were missing,” PAC convenor, Vekhosayi Nyekha told reporters.
As an immediate effect of the non-payment of multiple illegal taxes by transporters today, Vekhosayi claimed that prices of many essential commodities dropped significantly in the market. He cited the example of the wholesale price of potato, which was being sold at Rs 20 the previous day, dropping 100% and sold at Rs 10 in the wholesale market on Monday.
The immediate reduction in price on most goods on the first day of the 6-days PAC move to stop illegal cash collection by different state and non-state actors from transporters shows how the consumers – the general public – had been forced to pay the illegal taxes indirectly to Government departments, underground groups, unions/associations etc by paying double or more the cost for any goods bought from the market.
With the PAC resolve to depute volunteers for the next five days, prices of all commodities is expected to see further drop in the coming days, which will bring huge relief to citizens of Dimapur in particular and Nagaland in general. However, there is still the danger of a return to illegal taxation as usual once the picketing at the check gates ends unless some stringent measures are adopted by the State Government to stop the menace.
On Monday, the citizen’s exercise to check illegal cash collection in check gates began early morning with volunteers preventing goods carrying vehicles from paying unauthorized money to any organizations, who have set up collection booths near the check gates. While a large number of police personnel were present at New Field check gate in the morning to monitor the situation, the volunteers led by PAC officials calmly checked the practice of illegal collection without causing any problems to the commuters and the general public. The number vehicles entering Nagaland through the New Field check gate was more compared to Dillai gate and Burma Camp check gate.
The PAC convenor said, “We received very good response from the public. But the first day was very challenging.” He thanked the volunteers for joining the people’s movement to end unabated taxation. “We have not checked any vehicles nor did we allow anyone to collect money,” he said.
“Even police were not accepting money from truck drivers today. When truck drivers rushed towards the gate to hand over money, police personnel manning the gate lifted their hands and declined,” he said adding all the transport drivers had their happiest day today.
Without paying a single tax to any Government departments and organizations, transporters entered Dimapur today with much ease, he remarked.
Vekhosayi expressed shock that Dimapur Municipal Council (DMC) collects more than 100 % from the prescribed rate per commodity. On the items overcharged by DMC, he said transporters ferrying poultry should pay only Rs 70 but are paying Rs 800 per stack. The prescribed rate of DMC is Rs 10 per stack and vehicles ferrying poultry has 7 stacks but they collect more than 50% to 100% not only on poultry items but on many other items.
On Chumekdima gate which was not included in today’s picketing programme, Vekhosayi said, “There was a territorial issue with the Naga Council for which we were not able to add the Chumekdima gate in our quest to eliminate the scourge of taxation by state and non state actors.”
Vekhosayi informed that an FIR was lodged against the Veterinary Department today but was later withdrawn following assurance that the Veterinary Department will from now on sincerely perform their duties. He revealed that the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department collects whole sale tax without even examining the animals ferried into Dimapur through the gate. “The department has assured that doctors will be there to check henceforth,” he informed.
The PAC also expressed serious concern on the modus operandi of the State Geology & Mining Department and the Forest Department collecting tax on sand. “Both the departments are collecting hefty amounts on sand and for which the price of sand is spiraling. PAC has decided that until and unless the department doesn’t decide who will collect tax, no taxes will be collected from trucks ferrying sands”.
A PAC official was also irked to note that the Geology & Mining Department collects Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 per tones on marbles and tiles, which he said should be immediately stopped. “On what basis they are collecting such hefty taxes,” he questioned.
Vekhosayi informed that once the news of picketing by the PAC-NCD was announced, more than 100 trucks entered Dimapur even prior to the picketing time -from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. He said any commercial vehicles entering Dimapur before and after the time bound set will be doing so at their own risk.
He also lamented that police are using different tricks to collect money. “During our presence they didn’t dare to collect money but we are getting reports that they are issuing token to collect the money later. There are so many ways and means to collect taxes; we are trying to rein it in”.
“Taxation by government department is only a tip of the iceberg, as undergrounds collect the maximum. On some trucks more than Rs 35000 to Rs 40000 are collected. Small thief and big thieves doesn’t matter, stealing is stealing,” he said and revealed that the NSCN (IM) and NSCN (U) are the major stake holders in collecting exorbitant amount from transporters.
“A wonderful report on taxation will be presented in a short time,” he disclosed.
When asked about the possibility of tax collectors collecting money from godowns, he said, “We cannot rule out such, but for all this we need to take up some strategy to deal with this menace.” (Page News Service)