Illegal collection of tax at check gates and on highways in Nagaland is nothing new and the public is at the receiving end because of this.
The Nagaland Voluntary Consumers’ Organisation (NVCO) raised the issue again on Sunday.
It appealed to the Nagaland government to stop the illegal collection of cash at all check gates and on highways in the state by effectively executing its standing order dated June 22, 2009.
The consumer body of the state made the appeal following warning issued by the Lahorijan and Khatkhati Truck Owners Welfare Society Assam and the Bokajan Truck Owners Association Assam to block National Highways.
The warning was issued in protest against tax collected from heavy vehicles allegedly by various law-enforcing agencies and underground outfits at different designated points and gates starting from entry gates in Dimapur till Imphal.
In a statement, the organisation pointed out that the check gates are controlled and maintained by Nagaland police mainly to check the vehicles carrying contraband goods or any theft of goods, vehicles, but not to take cash from vehicles or truckers.
According to the organisation, several policemen, especially lower rank ones, prefer to have duty at check gates and even fight for it even as the duty at check gates is supposed to be the most difficult one.
“What we can say is they are more interested in the cash collection,” it said.
It said as per the June 22 standing order of 2009 issued by the then chief secretary, the state government had decided that henceforth no collection of taxes/cash will be made by any organisation or individual, including government departments such as police, excise, forest and taxes departments.
The NVCO recalled that the state government had lifted all the check gates except the few border check gates a few years ago in order to stop illegal taxation. However, after sometime the check gates slowly appeared again and the normal practice of collection of cash by police and other organisations continued till date, it said.
It wondered that more check gates and toll tax counters have come up now, which are collecting bigger amount than before.
The NVCO said it is a fact that the illegal collection of cash at the check gates has been going on for the last several decades. But it has to be stopped, it said.
The organisation asked how can police stop other organisations or unions from collecting tax when they themselves are indulged in such activity.
It demanded that no tax or cash should be collected at the check gates, including at toll tax counters, and no check posts should be allowed to block the highway just for toll tax.
NVCO president Kezhokhoto Savi said numerous bandhs and truckers’ strike in the past were called by different councils and unions and truckers associations against illegal taxation in the state.
He said the innocent public is suffering due to skyrocketing prices of commodities because of heavy and illegal taxation.
Savi said the practices of illegal taxation or collection of cash in the state are in different forms such as taxation imposed on the business community, government employees, developmental projects et al by various underground factions.
He said these practices included deduction and collection of “abnormal commissions” in the name of party funds and several others, including higher-ups in offices, mainly from the development projects/contractors’ bills, collection of cash on the highways and at check gates by unions, public organisations, Nagaland police, federations, associations, several government departments.
The NVCO asked the state government to stop all forms of illegal taxation.
It also appealed to all the district administration in the state to put in more efforts to stop illegal taxation at check gates and on highways, especially in the state capital Kohima and commercial hub Dimapur.