The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), the state’s dominant separatist group, had “banned” the Action Committee against Unabated Taxation (ACAUT), a conglomeration of social, business and church organisations; it had also banned Thursday’s rally.
“It was a red letter day for the Naga people to come out in the thousands, defying the rebel outfit diktat, and opposing the illegal tax levies by various rebel groups,” ACAUT secretary Solomon L. Awomi said.
In fact, Thursday’s public rally was the first of its kind in Nagaland, where people came out openly marking their protest against the illegal imposition of tax by Naga separatist outfits.
The NSCN (I-M) and its rival Khaplang faction had been collecting “tax” since their split in 1988. A government employee pays at least 25 percent of his or her monthly salary — deducted before disbursement — to these outfits. The rally was not only against the illegal tax levies by the Naga rebels, but also against the unprecedented corruption and multiple taxation practiced by government servants at various levels.
“We (the rallyists) have decided to pay one tax to one government and not to any other outfits, besides asking the state government to set up high power committee comprising of five members including two ACAUT members to review and streamline the illegal taxation and corruption in the state,” Solomon told IANS after the mammoth rally at the clock tower, held under a blanket security cover.