The Voice of the People is the Voice of God: Unknown
The 31st October “Public Awareness Rally” organised by the ACAUT was an outcome of the felt need to gauge public mood on the issue of unabated taxation and illegal collections levied by the Naga Political Groups (NPGs) and government agencies/departments respectively and carry forward the ACAUT movement to the next level. That it turned out to be one of the biggest rallies in recent memory is voice enough that the Naga people are tired of the present state of affairs and the verdict for change is crystal clear. Given the circumstances, the ACAUT had to take to task all the 3 entities responsible for the welfare and security of the Naga people, namely, the Naga Political Groups (NPGs), the Government of India (GOI) and the Government of Nagaland (GoN) and therefore, a 3 (three) point resolution was passed by the tens of thousands of concerned citizens at the rally which we believe is representative of the opinions of the citizens of the whole state.
Resolution 1: THE NAGA PUBLIC RECOGNIZES “ONE GOVERNMENT ONE TAXATION” ONLY AND THE NAGA PUBLIC HAS DECIDED TO PAY ONLY ONE TAX TO ONE ENTITY. THIS ALSO MEANS THAT AS LONG AS FACTIONALISM EXISTS, THE NAGA PUBLIC SHALL NOT PAY TAX. This point is self-explanatory. The Naga people insist that as long as the NPGs are divided, no tax shall be paid. This also means that every individual who took this pledge on the 31st October rally is MORALLY BOUND NOT PAY TAX IN ANY FORM till “ONE GOVERNMENT” is a reality. In plain terms ONE GOVERNMENT ONE TAX means that every household in every village (and towns) in Nagaland shall NOT pay HOUSEHOLD TAX unless ONE GOVERNMENT is a reality. It also means that every government servant from the senior most bureaucrats to the humble peon shall not pay SALARY TAX unless ONE GOVERNMENT comes to fruition. This slogan shall mean that no Naga businessmen or entrepreneurs or any non-local businessmen residing in Nagaland shall pay TAX to any factions unless ONE GOVERNMENT becomes tangible. The ACAUT appeals to every individual in Nagaland to do his or her duty and comply with this resolution at all cost. The phrase “ONE GOVERNMENT ONE TAX” has been the clarion call of the Naga people for a long time. The signatories of the Naga Concordant themselves have dedicated themselves to “One Naga National Government” which taken to its logical conclusion means ONE TAXATION only. Therefore, any organisation party to Naga Concordant feigning ignorance as to the real meaning of the term “ONE GOVERNMENT ONE TAX” is amusing. All said and done, the ACAUT is not concerned with how this One Government is to come about. It’s also not propagating that the such and such groups should come together and this and that group should be left out since this is not our lookout and beyond our scope but it is the bounden duty of the NPGs to come together and form this ONE GOVERNMENT.
The ACAUT is simply saying in plain simple English that:
a) Factionalism is the cause of unabated taxation and unabated taxation the cause of factionalism.
b) Factionalism is the cause of turf war (over taxation) and bloodshed. Factionalism is the reason why the GOI is not interested in solving the Indo-Naga problem much less an honourable one.
c) Factionalism has all but destroyed the Naga movement irrespective of the debate about the legitimacy and illegitimacy of this and that faction.
Therefore, the ACAUT is simply saying that unless the factions unite the people will continue to suffer and since the people have been suffering for a long time, the time has come to say ENOUGH is ENOUGH. If ONE GOVERNMENT ONE TAXATION cannot become a reality, the NPGs should understand that their inaction is anti-people in nature and they shall be solely responsible for killing the Naga movement and the peace talks, not the ACAUT. Members of the ACAUT and Naga Council have been branded as traitors and anti-Nagas for undertaking the task of reforming this land but the Naga people shall know who the real traitors are and shall be branded as such in due time.
Resolution 2: THE NAGA PUBLIC RE-AFFIRMS ITS SUPPORT FOR NAGA MOVEMENT AND STRONGLY URGES THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA TO SETTLE THE INDO-NAGA IMBROGLIO AT THE EARLIEST. Probably no government in the world is unmindful of the plight of its citizens as the Indian state is. Is it surprising that the only nation in the world to have an institutional form of racism in the form of caste system has allowed the Naga conflict to drag on for more than 60 years putting untold misery on ordinary folks? The people in this region yearn for peace but the non-committal attitude of the GOI is blatantly racist. Isn’t Nagaland a part of India? Is this how its citizens are treated in the so-called world’s largest democracy? If the NPGs are responsible for the sorry state of affairs of our state the GOI is also equally guilty of abandoning its citizens. If the Indian government has taken advantage of the ACAUT movement, too bad but what did the NSCN (IM) expect? Is the GOI is really serious about solving the Indo-Naga imbroglio? Why is the GOI-NSCN (IM) peace talk dragging on for 16 long years? As touched upon, isn’t factionalism in the movement the only plausible reason which India has gleefully seized upon? Is it a co-incidence that India is probably asserting itself in every fore including undermining Article 371A? Perhaps, the day is also not too far off when the GOI is ready to throw Art. 371A into its constitutional dustbin and reduce Nagaland to an ordinary state minus its special status?
Resolution 3: THE GOVERNMENT OF NAGALAND SHOULD CONSTITUTE A HIGH POWERED COMMITTEE WITHIN 15 DAYS TO STUDY THE WHOLE GAMUT OF UNABATED TAXATIONS AND ILLEGAL COLLECTIONS INVOLVING THE NPGS AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES/DEPARTMENTS. THE COMMITTEE SHALL CONSIST OF ATLEAST 5 (FIVE) MEMBERS HEADED BY A RETIRED JUDGE OF THE SUPREME COURT OR HIGH COURT WITH ATLEAST 2 MEMBERS FROM THE ACAUT. THE COMMITTEE SHOULD SUBMIT ITS REPORT WITHIN 2 MONTHS WITH ITS FINDINGS PUBLISHED IN ALL THE NEWSPAPERS. IN THE EVENT OF THE GOVERNMENT FAILING TO CONSTITUTE THE COMMITTEE WITHIN THE SAID PERIOD, THE ACAUT WILL INITIATE FURTHER ACTION IN CONSULTATION WITH PUBLIC. MRP tax (another ingenious tax) is levied by underground cadres ostensibly on goods without MRP labels.
It is obvious that the MRP tag cannot be tagged on pipes, nails, nylon ropes, CGI sheets, Chinese toys, etc. However, this hasn’t stopped the cadres from accusing businessmen of unfair trade practices and levy tax. This is the form of harassment experienced on daily basis by the businesspeople and common man. Does the GoN still believe that cracking down on day-light robbers and extortionists will lead to break-down of peace talks? Does it still believe that enforcing the rule of law will undermine the Naga political issue? Is streamlining DMC and stopping the police and government departments from undertaking illegal collections related to ‘fragile’ Naga peace talks? At the end of the day, the state government is responsible for the security and lives of its citizens. No amount of justification can wish away the fact that the government has done nothing to address the issues raised by the ACAUT. It’s obvious the Naga people are taken for fools by all the 3 entities, the NPGs, the GOI and the GoN. -NPN