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The military version: “Cash disbursement of salary in 1990s boosted extortion in Nagaland”

Nagaland News

Nirendra Dev
NEW DELHI, JUNE 6: Introduction of digital payment mechanism and direct to bank accounts transfer have had a salutary impact in Northeast, especially in ‘extortion-hit State of Nagaland’, said a retired military officer who served in the region.
“I do not know much about Jan Dhan scheme and how it has helped poor people. People talk good about it. But digital mechanism and direct account payee systems discarding over-use of cash are all parts of rewarding strategy”, Lt Gen (Retd) RN Kapur told this Journalist in a brief interview.
“I should say, particularly the people in Nagaland were burdened with extortion menace in
Mid ’90s. During my time, all government employees were paid salary in cash including perhaps Chief Secretary. We were told ‘taxes’ on behalf of NSCN-IM was deducted by the Cashier itself”, said Gen Kapur, who was decorated with prestigious PVSM, AVSM and Bar.
Nagaland had already entered into ceasefire since August 1997, he pointed out adding, “We from Assam Rifles took it up with the State Government higher ups. After speaking to Chief Minister, it was decided that salaries below Rs 8000 will only be paid in cash. I used to send a team under a JCO (Junior Commissioned Officer) who used to supervise disbursement without deduction. It had made collection of the so-called tax difficult as some refused to pay later.”
To a question, he said, “systematic attack on free cash flow” later made things difficult even for other Naga armed groups and also those in other Northeastern States. “The extortion menace is very painful thing in Nagaland; it has harmed the State’s economic prosperity in long terms.”
Dwelling on other issues, he said the ongoing situation in Manipur is a matter of concern. “But I admire the fact that Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah visited the State and stayed there for 4 days. Hope his assessments and reviewing of things have put things on right perspective… Transfer of DGP was a good move to start with.”
Answering questions, Gen Kapur said, “Human intelligence is the best source of information for security forces to work on.”
“The situation Manipur is in today or what the Northeastern States generally face is the low-intensity conflict… It’s challenging time but not war-time. Recently captured terrorists and insurgents are the chief sources for actionable moves. But unlike a war when enemy position do not change much in a small geographical landscape, during low intensity conflicts the militants are also smart enough to move out quickly from their hideouts as they have excellent local network and they also know that once one or two colleagues have been captured, it is always wise to move out from such vulnerable locations quickly.”
In the given situation in Manipur, he said the first priority should be ensuring peace.
“However, at the same time security forces and others should understand that in the Northeast the tribals have a very different psyche. Once they feel threatened, it is do and die situation for them and unless concrete measures are taken to assuage their fears, it is difficult to convince them.”
Asked to comment on the allegation of human rights violation by forces in most militancy-stricken places like Kashmir or Northeastern States, Gen Kapur said, “Well the force is aware of the issue and whenever such allegations come, things are looked into and the force takes corrected measures by taking disciplinary action. Indian army’s record on human rights issue is overall very good. I should add that it is a fact that soldiers and officers are trained to take losses in their own strides and take actions as deemed necessary in the overall aim of the operations.”
There have been instances and some exceptions how high-handedness can happen also due to factors such as excessive stresses, physical fatigue, unfriendly weather conditions, rains for days, etc, he said.