Saturday, October 8, 2022

State govt to crack whip on extortion, taxation

Staff Reporter

DCs and CP empowered to detain individuals under NSA

With increasing number of organized extortions, illegal taxation and antisocial elements in the State, the government has empowered district magistrates and commissioner of police, Dimapur to detain certain persons to prevent them from acting in any manner prejudicial to security of the State and maintenance of public order as per provisions of the National Security Act (NSA), 1980.
The government noted that organised extortion, collection of illegal taxes, possession and carrying of illegal arms and ammunitions, etc, continued, and was of the view that prevalence of such unlawful activities had the potential to seriously impact the security of the State and maintenance of peace.
In accordance with Section 3(3) of NSA, the government, through a notification dated August 30, 2022, empowered District Magistrates/Deputy Commissioners in the State and Commissioner of Police Dimapur to act under the ambit of the Act in the interest of the State and people for a period of 3 months with effect from September 1 to November 30. For the districts of Dimapur, Niuland and Chümoukedima, this power had been delegated to CP Dimapur until further orders.
Meanwhile, various CSOs of several districts have declared a no-extortion zone in their respective area and have warned that stern action will be taken against those involved. It may be recalled that the state government had issued notifications twice– on June 22, 2009 and reaffirmed on June 12, 2012-banning collections in any form at check gates and highways.
The Gauhati High Court Kohima Bench had in a landmark judgment on June 3, 2014 had banned on collections in any form by CSOs. In 2012 ACAUT Nagaland had organised a rally calling on the government to implement the ban orders by the state government besides a massive rally was organised in 2013 against all forms of collection. Even the High Power Committee (HPC) set up by the government in 2014 to look into illegal collections submitted its report in 2015 but it has been kept under wraps.
During September 2019, volunteers of the Public Action Committee, set up under the aegis of the Naga Council Dimapur thwarted illegal and multiple collections at check gates.
Eventually Nagaland Governor Prof. Jagdish Mukhi prevailed upon the state government which led to issuance of an order on May 19 for closure of all check gates, except inter-state gates while those manned by state government departments were asked to close down by May 31. However, despite several measures initiated to combat illegal collection at the check gates and other locations in the state, there has been no respite as the menace still continues to haunt the business community.
The same was also pointed out by Dimapur Chamber of Commerce & Industry in May this year– that Dimapur-based transporters were still facing the brunt of illegal taxation and harassment from various groups and anti-social elements. “These groups and elements are indulging in ‘dalali’ practices and pressure tactics on transporters including force-closure of transport offices and subtle threats through SMSs,” DCCI stated.
It may be noted that ACAUT Nagaland in its 10-point charter of demand in May this year demanded that police should be given more teeth and power by the State by legislating an Act like the ‘Maharashtra Crime Control Act’ and ‘Uttar Pradesh Goondas Act’ to act as a deterrent.
According to reports, it is not only extortion/illegal taxations but the syndicates that have monopolized the market. In February this year, GB Union Dimapur (S) and Dimapur Urban Council Chairmen Federation had also said that the “Naga society has been burdened too much and pushed to its acceptable limit due to multiple taxation; menace of syndicate system; and business monopolies, leading to skyrocketing price rise.”