Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Taxation menace and its possible consequences

The Kohima Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) issued a statement on the harassments of the business community in the Capital in local press dated 6.10.2023 that by “various elements’ including “charity deeds in favor of buffets, concerts, dinner packs, lotteries, raffles and calendars.” The KCCI complained that various types of collections from the business community in Kohima town by elements (probably identifiable elements) and by different organizations whereby the business people are drained out of their hard-earned money. On 8.10.2023, the Chakhroma Public Organization(CPO) and the Western Sumi Hoho (WSH) jointly issued a statement on unabated taxation through local press saying “Further, the meeting noted the mushrooming of multiple factions resulting in unabated taxation that had become unbearable …” The Dimapur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and the Dimapur Urban Council Chairmen Federation (DUCCF) jointly issued a statement in local press on 11.10.2023 in support of the voices raised against illegal taxation by Chakhroma Public Organization and the WSH stating that “the menace of illegal taxation, extortion, donation and syndicate system, which had been borne mostly by the business community for decades.” On June 18, 2023, the local papers published a news item on how the office of the All Nagaland Taxi Association (ANTA) at Kohima was vandalized and manhandled the General Secretary of the Association by two cadres from an unidentified political group. On 4.11.2023, the KCCI condemned the kidnapping of the businessman Mr. Anil Choudhary in Kohima by certain element. While condemning the kidnapping and expressing its solidarity with the victim and the KCCI dated 6.11.2023, the CNCCI indicted “the law enforcing agencies (in Kohima) were caught napping.” The threat and the kidnapping are all but for demand of money. On 3.12.2023, the DCCI and the Chumoukedima Chamber of Commerce and Trade Association (CCCTA) had threatened the administration that it would down the shutters if “illegal taxation menace is not checked.” The DCCI once again expressed its dismay at the lack of literal response either from the District Administration or from the State Govt. to the plight of the incessant multiple taxations dated 31.1.2024. That on 4.3.2024, the DCCI has threatened to have indefinite shutter-down in Dimapur to show its unbearability over taxation and series of harassments to business community which is backed by some other public platforms too.
Despite those successive implorations, the Govt. had never considered it to be a matter of public importance nor dares to take up the issue and rather preferred to ignore it as though the matter is outside its purview.
As per the summary as above, the message of the tax payers is explicit that paying tax to the growing number of the outfits cannot be allowed to remain as the indefinite business. The message means enough is enough. This message of the aggrieved is perhaps vouched by silent hundreds and thousands of people. Yes, dependency and parasitical culture should not be allowed to become our way of life nor can it be the inalienable aspect of our life.
Yet, rather rubbing salt to the injury, though it is a reiteration, there might have been unscrupulous Govt. employees hobnobbing with certain elements in taxing the employees in their respective Departments by deducting the salaries and sharing the spoils barring the honest ones. This might have been the practice of sucking the blood of the vulnerable lot by some for years together. The administration and the Police are hardly a deterrent to elements harassing the business communities in towns in particular. Had the State Govt. maintained its integrity, it would have commanding authority by which the business community and the common man would have been protected. Yet, when the Govt. prefers to have unholy leagues with elements in lieu of containing the menace, and thus the security of the public is left in the lurch.
Besides there has been the growing number of the taxing outfits, and yet the public preferred to silently watch such detrimental developments of the mushrooming of the off-shoots of political groups. When we failed to prevent one, we cannot prevent the other. When a new outfit is born, a new additional tax is added to the existing. It is natural that no group can survive without taxing the public. The trend goes on that there will be continuous growth of the number of the outfits with valid or invalid justifications as months and years roll by. We know that all the political groups are not of same in stature, in integrity or in commitment. Yet, we cannot segregate one from the other at this rate. Ultimately the public have to bear the brunt of nurturing every outfit whether needed for our cause or obsolete.
The only antidote to the imbroglio is the ‘political solution’ to the Naga political issue. The WC of 7 NNPGs worked committedly to conclude the political negotiation with the GoI into that desired solution. Yet, several factors worked against it to perpetuate the prevailing situation in Nagaland in particular. Primarily the Nagas have to blame ourselves for the uncertainty of the political negotiations rather than blaming the GoI. The tribal bodies and those NGOs/CSOs who were supposed to be vocal for solution during the peak season preferred sulking and evasiveness. Of course, the GoI too miserably failed to fulfill its promise made to the Nagas that within 18 months time the issue would be settled. Despite the slackness of those bodies and the lackadaisical attitude of GoI, had there been a Lalthanhawla under Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress, by now the people of Nagaland would have been living in genuine peace which we cherished it for so long.
Nevertheless, it is very imperative for the public to introspect ourselves as to whether we have done adequately for those of the political negotiators who genuinely humbled themselves to depart from the life of dependency and have a life of self-dependence, peaceful and respectable life? The answer to this question is that the public had failed to pave the way for them to have that desired chapter of life. The Naga National workers deserve to have the normal life only through that respectable transitional passage so offered by GoI out of that mechanism called dialogue. Yet, the Naga people were more farcical than serious about the importance of the political negotiations. Our pride and the rejection of the political realities will fetch immense political consequences (I am not elaborating here) now or in near future. It is an undeniable fact that the NSCN (IM) and the State Govt. corroborated against political solution. When so, the fragile public platforms were towed along.
Whatever said and done, most of the best opportunities for the Nagas were allowed to slip away from our hand. Now what await us is worrisome. As Nagaland has been under the over-administration for decades, the volcano of excessive administration may erupt one day at this rate. Not only the business community but including the general public are tired of living in this contaminated atmosphere of what is true is false and what is false is true, what is good is bad and what is bad is good, and what is honest is abhorred and what is dishonest is craved after.
No surprise if similar situation in the island nation Haiti erupts in Nagaland. This poor country failed to recover from the catastrophic earthquake that hit the nation on 12th January, 2010 followed by one calamity after another. In the midst of the struggle, gangster groups cropped up and the infighting amongst those gangs numbering about 200 displaced the gullible public. In the melee, the 43d President of Haiti Jovenel Moise was assassinated at his official quarter on 7th July, 2021. Haiti’s PM Ariel Henry was compelled to resign on March 11, 2024. There has been less semblance of governance and the gangster infighting has transformed the situation in Haiti into chaos and anarchy.
The developed situation in Haiti is the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake, the natural calamity. In the case of Nagaland, should any similar turmoil erupts hereafter, it is the aftermath of manmade calamity. Should any such disorder occurs in Nagaland, it will be over the issue of survival between two classes of people, and such is the handiwork of those who opposed the political solution with both monetary and political might. The political solution alone can prevent such uncertainties and can deliver people from the ongoing suppression and that alone can bring permanent peace to Nagaland. I am afraid we are destined to have another regret.
Z Lohe