Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Thursday said that he will take legal action against a truckers' body for accusing him of abetting extortion along the National Highway 62 through illegal toll gates.
"I am resorting to legal action against the accusations of truckers," Sangma told journalists in the wake of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Sushma Swaraj assured truckers' to raise the issue in the forthcoming monsoon session of the parliament.
The All North East Commercial Truckers' and Owners' Association (ANECTOA) charged Sangma of abetting extortion on National Highway 62 after he allegedly requested them (truckers) to come to an understanding with the operators of the illegal toll and check gates instead of demanding for their removal.
According to the truckers' body, there are more than 29 such illegal toll gates on the highway manned by armed people extorting over Rs 6,000 per truck per trip. The National Highway 62 connecting Meghalaya's East and South Garo Hills districts and West Khasi Hills district
"When we approach the chief minister to dismantle the illegal gates, we were shocked to hear from him saying: I cannot do anything to these illegal gates and suggested us to come to an understanding with the operators of the illegal toll and check gates and settle them on monthly basis," ANECTOA General Secretary, Augustine Shanpru claimed.
However, the Chief Minister rubbished the truckers' allegations and said that the stand of the government on the illegal toll gates is zero tolerance and directives has been issued to district administrations to dismantle these toll gates.
"We have taken action against these illegal toll gates and if there are still the government will act accordingly," Sangma said.
To a question whether the government will refer illegal toll gates scandals to the CBI, Sangma said, "The responsibility has been given to respective district administrations to take action and if they fail I will pull them up."
Earlier, the ANECTOA has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram to direct the state government to stop all the illegal check gates and initiate CBI probe into it. Interestingly, the A'chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC), a powerful rebel group operating in Garo Hills areas in Western part of Meghalaya criticised the truckers over the issue of illegal toll gates.
"ANECTOA accusations against the chief minister on the issue as political motivated and these toll gates along the highway are not illegal at all since they belong to different departments of the government including autonomous district council," ANVC Spokesman, Arist Sengsrang Sangma said.