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Another ‘tax’ point at National Highway 39
Correspondent IMPHAL, JAN 10:
Published on 11 Jan. 2009 1:10 AM IST
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Exhibiting that government's efforts to save the passage of highway travelers with security escorts on Imphal(Manipur)-Dimapur (Nagaland) section of National Highway 39 is namesake and only on paper, a group of non-state "tax collector" emerged and started collecting money from freight trucks plying at rate of Rs 200 per trip. Commercial vehicles plying on NH 39 en route to Manipur are subjected to a variety of 'taxes' by militant factions with the full knowledge of state agencies. According to an intelligence analysis report, NSCN (IM) has set up 26 permanent 'tax' collection points along the NH. The modus operandi of 'tax' collection at these points is systematic and elaborate. Every commercial vehicle plying through this route pays at least Rs 4,000 per trip as 'taxes' to the outfit. Truckers who fail to pay are often assaulted and forced to pay exorbitant 'fines'. On many occasions, trucks have been looted or set ablaze for 'non-compliance'. With the government remaining indifferent, the impact of this sustained extortion is severely felt on the prices of essential commodities in adjoining Manipur, on a permanent basis. "The miscreants stopped the trucks moving with security escorts and collected the money in front of the police and security force. Police said nothing to the miscreants," said a driver. However, he wanted to omit his name for future security. When the drivers were insisted to name the outfit behind the collection, the miscreants refused and was instead asked to do what they were ordered and threatened of dire consequences. Apart from imposition of heavy illegal "taxes" by the militant outfits, truckers are facing various disturbances meted out by civil organizations that frequently spearhead economic blockades and bandhs on the highway in connection with certain demands from the government taking advantage of NH 39 being the only life line of Manipur people. Currently, truckers are moving with security escorts as agitating Naga People Organisation (NPO) has imposed blockade on the highway. Government's security on the highway could not effectively relief the disturbances and harassments meted out to highway travelers and freight truckers transporting essential commodities to Imphal from other parts of the country.

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