What was once a faint whisper turned into a shout today! Amidst resounding chants of “Enough is Enough” and “We Shall Overcome,” the message of the ACAUT Public Awareness Rally was clear that the Naga Political Groups need to unite to form one entity and only then will the issue of multiple taxation be resolved.
Thousands of men and women, young and old and from all walks of life converged at the Clock Tower, as Dimapur injected a much needed thrust to the movement against multiple taxation. The message of the rally, which was echoed by all the speakers, was lucid: that the people have had “enough and the people want change.”
Columnist and retired IAS officer, Khekiye K. Sema’s affirmation for ‘one government, one tax’ provided a direction for the rally. “One tax, to one government,” Sema stated, and without mincing words, he posed, “I ask the Naga freedom fighters why they broke up into so many factions… if the goal is one.” Making the intention of the movement clear, he said that the objective of the rally is to reason with the Naga Political Groups.
Quoting Edmund Burke’s, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” Sema pointed to the general lack of interest shown by Nagas to events such as the day’s rally. But “If we want to fight we have got to be present to fight for it…” Sema stated and emphasized on the stake that the people have in the movement.
Calling for radical changes, he said that the present circumstance demands a plebiscite like the one held in 1951 which gave legitimacy to the Naga Freedom Movement. “If you and I refuse to pay, they can kill us, yes. But the first human being that is killed on the issue of excess taxation, there will be a revolution in Nagaland. And no movement can survive without people like you and I.”
On that note, he expressed surprise at the apparent inaction of the tribal hohos in the movement. “What are the tribal hohos doing? Can they not setup up ACAUT branches in their own respective districts?”
The Government of Nagaland may be watching from the sidelines, but according to Sema, the state government is no better. He said that one fleeces the people through ‘percentage cuts’, while the other does it through the barrel of the gun.
President of the Naga Council, Dimapur, Bangerloba Ao, referring to the NSCN (IM)’s response and effort to streamline its taxation system, expressed hope that it will be fulfilled in letter and spirit. But till such time the grievances are resolved, the public should understand that “we have to stand up as one.” Advisor to the Naga Mothers Association, Rosemary Dzüvichu, appealed that freedom of expression, freedom of thought and action must be given precedence. “No unwarranted threats. This is the demand of the NMA.” Dzüvichu on behalf of the NMA appealed to the Nagaland state government to play its role, that of protecting the citizens, the women, the children and the children’s future.
President of the Nagaland Tribes Council, Thepfulhouvi Solo; consumer rights activist, Kezhokhoto Savi; vice president of the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation, Sashi Naga; general secretary of the Naga Students’ Federation, Esther Rhakho; former MLA Z. Lohe; ACAUT co-convenor Joel Nillo and the founder of the online group, The Naga Blog, Yanpvuo Kikon were the other speakers. Morung Express