All business activities in Nagaland came to a grinding halt during the state-wide one-day shutdown of all shops and business establishments on Thursday. Entry of goods transport into Dimapur, the gateway to the state, was not allowed during the shutdown. 

However, government offices, banks and educational institutions functioned as usual while government and private vehicles and public transport, including auto rickshaws, though few in numbers, plied normally. 

The shutdown was called by the Confederation of Nagaland Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CNCCI) and Dimapur Chamber of Commerce and Industries (DCCI) to protest against the inaction of the Nagaland government against multiple and rampant illegal taxation on the business community by various Naga political groups as well government agencies. 

In a representation to Nagaland chief secretary J Alam on September 9, demanded immediate resolution of the multiple taxation issue on business community by various Naga political groups, removal of all forms of tax/fees by collected by the civic bodies on items falling under the GST regime, immediate implementation of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFEASI) Act, 2002, and nomination of permanent representatives of business and trade bodies in civic bodies under Nagaland Municipal Act. 

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Addressing a joint press conference with DCCI here today, CNCCI president Dr Khekugha Muru said the shutdown was total in all the 12 districts of the state. He said the shutdown was imposed as the CNCCI was not satisfied with the government’s response to its demands. 

Muru warned of stepped-up agitation across the state if the government fails to fulfill their demands immediately.  He reminded that today’s shutdown was only the first phase of their agitation. 

He said the shutdown was successful as all the public, civil societies and NGOs extended support. 

Muru expressed gratitude to the state government for trying to resolve the issue at the highest level but said it should not be Dimapur-specific. 

Asked whether the trader bodies offered any solution to resolve the multiple taxations on traders by the Naga political groups, he opined that early settlement of the Naga political issue can be an answer. 

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Nevertheless, he added, “We have no solution. That is why we asked the government to resolve it.” 

DCCI president Akashe Zhimomi said the business community cannot serve “13 governments’ in the state, in an obvious reference to the self-styled governments run by the Naga political groups. 

He said the shutdown was total in all the districts of the state and that there was no untoward incident reported from any part of the state. 

He stressed that the government must streamline businesses in the state adding it must also clarify whether the multiple taxations imposed by the Naga groups is legal or illegal. 

“If it is illegal, the government must take action against it,” Zhimoi stated. 

He lamented that the government has not taken any concrete decision to tackle the multiple taxation issue. 

On September 14, the state government under the chairmanship of Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton at a meeting deliberated on developing a comprehensive strategy to deal with the complaints pertaining to Illegal taxation/extortion in Dimapur district. 

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The meeting decided that collection of any kind of tax/fees on items/goods that come under the GST regime will be immediately stopped by all the municipal and town councils across the state. 

It asked Dimapur commissioner of police to immediately put in place a security grid and take other measures, including stationing sufficient security personnel at various locations, to check illegal taxation/extortion. 

The government also asked the administrators of all the urban local bodies to take steps to include the representatives of the business communities of their cities/towns in their advisory committees for taking decisions in respect to various business-related activities. 

The government said the SARFEASI Act is under examination of the Select Committee of Nagaland Legislative Assembly. 

The government had appealed to the CNCCI to reconsider its call for statewide closure of businesses and extend support and cooperation to it in tackling the illegal taxation/extortion issue. 

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com