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Op-Ed

ACAUT memorandum to Prime Minister

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By EMN Updated: Dec 02, 2014 9:58 pm
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To
The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
(Camp: Chumukedima, Dimapur, Nagaland)

Sub: Representation to SHRI. NARENDRA MODI, THE HON’BLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA submitted by ACAUT Nagaland on behalf of Nagas during his visit to Nagaland, 30th Nov- 1st Dec 2014 at Chumukedima Police Complex, Chumukedima, Nagaland.

Hon’ble Prime Minister Sir,
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Naga people are enthused by your visit to our state and the ACAUT Nagaland takes this opportunity to welcome you on behalf of all the citizens who stand against corruption and unabated taxation in the state. Your visit to Nagaland has raised many expectations and the ACAUT is well aware that with a strong personality like yours you will fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the Naga people on behalf of whom we present our case.
The ACAUT Nagaland is a people’s movement tasked with the twin objective of tackling corruption in the state as well as addressing the issue of unabated taxation levied by different Naga Political Groups (NPGs). It is a people’s movement consisting of committed younger generation leaders at the core, tempered with equally committed experienced elders from all walks of life as Consultative Body Members (CBM). It is a movement which believes in Change. The genesis of this movement began with Dimapur Chamber of Commerce & Industries (DCCI), filing a complaint to the apex tribal body Naga Council Dimapur against ‘multiple unabated taxation’ and ‘syndicate system’ that was severely crippling the economy of the common man determinedly being perpetuated by the NPGs inclusive of the corrupt practices of the State Government of Nagaland. This resulted in the formation of ACAUT on 27th May 2013 to check the rot. The unsparing methodologies of multiple taxations against each conceivable commodity in the market being deployed by the NPGs and questionable taxation norms by the State Government infrastructures without legitimate receipts being issued were ventilated in the public domain for all to absorb. A massive public rally was then held on 31st October 2013 despite threat from a Faction. The masses, over 40 thousand strong, emphatically endorsed the following resolutions that historic day:
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.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.
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, the government fails to constitute the committee within the said period, the ACAUT will initiate further action in consultation with public.
Since then ACAUT has carried out a State-wide awareness campaigns touching every District and some Sub-Divisions within Nagaland, minutely and carefully explaining the three charters of this resolution. ACAUT has made it crystal clear that it is not against any NPGs neither is this movement against the fundamental inalienable historical rights of the Nagas towards self-determination. All that the people desperately want is for all the NPGs to UNITE under one roof thereby reducing the senseless regime of greed dictated taxation of all the Factions in the name of “Sovereignty” and at the same time bring about a cohesive political vision that all Factions would be prepared to endorse collectively and negotiate in tandem. The endorsement of the people to the Slogan of ACAUT for “ONE GOVERNMENT, ONE TAX” has been an emphatic “YES”! For clarity, the “One Government” refers to one Naga National Government and not the State Government of Nagaland in this case.
Since the ACAUT has already highlighted the challenges being faced by the Naga people it sincerely appeals to the Prime Minister of India for solution to the issues being raised which we believe will go a long way in nation building:
A. The Naga Movement for independence or sovereignty is perhaps one of the longest running movements in the world. Over the decades, at one point or the other, successive Indian governments have failed to resolve this most protracted issue either due to lack of consensus, political will or simply insincerity. Whatever the reasons, the Naga people has borne the consequences of this inability on the part of the Indian Government to resolve the issue in one form or the other, the latest being the burning issue of unabated taxation being levied by all the 8 existing factions. It is the contention of the ACAUT Nagaland that the almost 2 decades of ceasefire between the Government of India and the NPGs have only worsened the situation in Naga society in terms of random unabated taxations, worsening law and order situation, increased corruption, factional animosity leading to frequent infightings and killings and absence of infrastructural development. This unabated taxation running into several hundreds or even into thousands of crores of rupees is the reason why factionalism exists in the Naga movement for self-determination. Therefore, unabated taxation is the cause of factionalism and factionalism the cause of unabated taxation. Under the circumstances, in 2008, the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) initiated the cry for Unity and Reconciliation among the warring factions. However, after 6 years of tireless effort by the FNR, the NPGs seem to have abandoned the idea of reconciliation. Therefore, the ACAUT having realised the futility of appealing to the NPGs to unite and reconcile, adopted the slogan of “One Government One Tax” in its 31st October rally in 2013.
As long as the armed groups do not reconcile, there shall be no permanent solution to the decades old Naga problem. And as long as there is no solution, there will be no peace in the land- a slice of very important territory which is the gateway to Myanmar, South and East Asia. As long as there is no peace, it is the innocent people whose right to live in dignity will be violated again and again as has been the case the past few decades.
Conclusion and Demand:
i) The ACAUT Nagaland is not against any ongoing peace talks per se. However, in order to bring about a true and permanent settlement to the protracted Indo-Naga political issue, and to resolve the 67 years old conflict once and for all, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi is urged to take into consideration the consequences of any settlement minus “One Government One Tax.” In the absence of unity amongst the NPGs, however well-meaning the GoI may be, it would counterproductively perpetuate another round of Civil War within Nagaland, with all the sidelined Factions predictably refusing to endorse GoI’s agreement with only one Faction. It is plain common sense that requires no scientist to decipher. The onus of salvaging a unity amongst the NPGs before seeking a solution must therefore squarely be placed on the shoulders of NSCN (IM) as the Faction that is spearheading the present negotiation. The negotiated settlement with the GoI would then be truly lasting and acceptable to the people once for all. This is the only possible salvaging light at the end of a long winding tunnel.
However, it is also of outmost importance for the Prime Minister to take into confidence all the stake holders whose lives will invariably be affected by whatever settlement arrived at. It is pertinent that the views of Naga civil society represented by the Village Councils are sought so that conclusion of any settlement does not spawn a post-settlement conflict which can become a much graver issue destroying Naga society. The Naga villages have since time immemorial wielded real authority and it is imperative that the opinions of Naga Village Councils and Chiefs are sought and accommodated for any well-meaning settlement. Once again, it is the stand of ACAUT Nagaland that the 67 years old Naga political issue should be resolved permanently once and for all by the Government of India under the strong leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India by taking an inclusive approach, which is, engaging in wider talks with other NPGs and Naga civil society on how the final settlement should be arrived at, keeping in focus the concept of “One Government One Tax” as endorsed by Naga people as a whole.
ii) Though the issue of tax and unabated taxation is linked to the wider issue of Naga political problem, it is imperative that the Government of India (GoI) deal appropriately with this issue separately and immediately as it is causing untold hardship and misery for the common man at large. In as far as the issue of unabated taxation is concerned, there is no doubt that the NPGs are running a parallel government. For instance, Nagaland is probably the only state in India where the salaries of its 100,000 employees is being deducted by the NPGs to the tune of 24% per year. It has far reaching repercussions for the healthy growth of Naga society. Therefore, the GoI should address the issue of unabated taxation most seriously without delay.
B. The issue of rampant corruption in the state is most serious for which ACAUT is relentlessly pursuing the issue. Therefore, it is the stand of ACAUT Nagaland that the Central Government should strictly monitor the utilisation of funds given by the Centre in the form of economic packages and developmental projects. Unless this is done, in a climate not conducive for private investment or development, siphoning of funds has been the rule these past several decades keeping the state of Nagaland in perpetual backwardness. Corruption is a universal phenomenon and cannot totally be wiped out. However the people of this country deserve to have a transparent economic system that common man can rely upon. ACAUT therefore appeals to the GoI to direct and influence the Government of Nagaland to institute a Lok Ayukta forthwith. This is the only possible relief that the people of Nagaland can look forward to as an answer to their crippled lives.
C. Since the formation of the state hood of Nagaland the Government of India undertook one of the most ambitious and people oriented development project of constructing two laning roads to connect four district and important towns of Nagaland under Special Accelerated Road Development Programme on North-East (SADP-NE) connecting 1. Longleng-Changtonya 2.Mon-Tamulu-Merangkong 3.Phek-Pfutsero 4) Zunheboto-Chekhabama with the total sanctioned amount of Rs. 1296 crores. The work was allotted to Maytas and Gayatri Joint Venture through Global Tender on February 4, 2011 to be completed by 17 February 2014.However, on RTI filed in the month of October 2014 by ACAUT to the Chief Engineer of National Highway Nagaland it was furnished that only 20.18% of work has been completed.
Within a span of 14 months, the Government of Nagaland conniving with the firm submitted revised estimate completely ignoring the terms of works contract. The revised estimate submitted was 200% from Rs.1296 crores to whopping Rs. 2978.20 crores, which is more than Nagaland state annual plan. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has expressed that revised estimate of “200% as shocking and noted the environmental hazard by cutting the huge mountains to justify demand of fund revisions…visible vast damage done to the natural resources.” Most importantly, noting the huge escalation the Financial Advisor to the Department of MORTH describes it as a “Scam” in her notes on the file.
MORTH in its letter dated 7.8.2014 stated that the firm has involved in “manipulative activities of how funds meant for SARDP Nagaland project were illegally diverted through manipulative methods” MORTH has seriously noted that “the implication are serious as it seems efforts are being made to derail Government of India’s objective as a growing economic superpower and safeguard concerns of internal security.” On the basis of all the evidences and discrepancies ACAUT demands that since the project is being implemented and monitored by MORTH through NH and not by the state government the Government of India should immediately institute a CBI inquiry to go into the depth of whole scam.
It is the Prime Minister’s vision that India should be a world power and under your strong leadership we are witnessing a resurgent and powerful India where she will command respect in all aspects. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the new Prime Minister of
India to close the chapter of conflict, death, alienation and militarisation in this part of India by concretising a permanent settlement with the Naga people. A new chapter of peace, prosperity and development should be ushered in and it will come from the mineral, human resources and bio-diversity rich North-East with trade access to South and East Asian countries turning India into the world’s foremost power.

Thanking You,

Yours Faithfully
ACAUT Nagaland

Signatories
1. Supong L. Ao
Chairman
ACAUT Nagaland
2. Khekiye K. Sema
Consultative Body Member
ACAUT Nagaland
3. Hokivi Chishi
Member
ACAUT Nagaland
4. Joel Nillo Kath
Co-Chair
ACAUT Nagaland
5. Simon Kelio, Member
6. Hetoi Chishi, Member
7. Akashe Zhimomi, Member
8. Tia Longchar, Member

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By EMN Updated: Dec 02, 2014 9:58:01 pm