Phase 1-ACAUT Nagaland tour dairy – 24- 29th March , 2014
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]CAUT Nagaland undertook the 1st phase of its Nagaland tour from 24th – 29th March and covered the districts of Mon, Longleng, Mokokchung, Tuensang, Wokha and the sub-division of Tseminyu. The tour was undertaken to highlight the activities of ACAUT Nagaland and raise awareness on unabated taxation and illegal collections indulged in by NPGs and state agencies both. ACAUT Nagaland interacted with tribal hohos, student unions, women organisations, youth bodies, GBs, DBs, village council authorities, chamber of commerce and the general public and put forth the slogan of One Government One Tax to the Naga people for its adoption.In its press release today ACAUT says it stressed on the following nine issues. That 1.ACAUT movement is an initiative of Naga civil society and business community to fight unabated taxation, illegal collections and corruption by Naga Political Groups (NPGs) and established government both. 2. The ACAUT Nagaland is committed to fighting corruption in any form since its acronym now stands for Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) Nagaland. 3. The ACAUT believes that unabated taxation can only be stopped if the different warring NPGs come under a single umbrella. The ACAUT is convinced that unabated taxation is the cause of factionalism in the Naga movement and vice-versa. 4.The ACAUT believes that for the sake of the Naga movement, the warring factions should be forced to reconcile and this is achievable if the Naga people stop giving tax and this includes both Household & Ration tax, the two taxes which legitimizes the factions. 5. The Naga people should be responsible enough to understand that different districts paying tax to different factions is only encouraging factionalism to take hold and Naga civil society is contributing to the mess in the movement. 6.The ACAUT adopted the slogan “One Government One Tax” at its 31st October, 2013 Public Rally attended by 40,000 Naga public at Dimapur. Armed with this mandate, ACAUT is committed to spreading the message of One Government One Tax in all the districts of Nagaland. 7. The ACAUT is also opposed to the usage of the slogan “Nagaland for Christ” by the NPGs- printed on taxation slips and letter pads- an act which justifies unabated taxation and other anti-social activities. 8.The ACAUT Nagaland is committed to the setting up of a High Powered Commission (HPC) as resolved on 31st October public rally to investigate all sorts of unabated taxations and corruption. The government risks facing a massive people’s agitation on this issue if it fails to set up the HPC. 9. The ACAUT Nagaland is riding on the crest of a massive people’s movement to bring accountability and transparency in the state and it shall not stop till its objectives are fulfilled.
Mon District: The open air public meeting in Mon was organised by Mon Chamber of Commerce on 24th afternoon and it was attended by Konyak Union led by its General Secretary Hosea Konyak, Konyak Students’ Union led by its president Loung-ai Wangnao, KNSK (women organisation), business community and members of the general public. Konyak leaders acknowledged ACAUT for undertaking its first ever state tour from Konyak soil and appreciated the ACAUT movement. In turn, Chingten Konyak, member of ACAUT and sessional chairman replied that since Konyak people had first raised the cry of “Unity First, Solution Second” the ACAUT felt it appropriate to start their tour from Konyak soil. The president of MCCI also acknowledged that the business community of Mon is suffering and facing hardships as elsewhere in the state. Later on, Konyak leaders at the interactive session supported in principle ACAUT’s stand on One Government One Taxation. The president of KSU Loung-ai Wangnao also wanted to know whether ACAUT activity was only to highlight unabated taxation imposed by the NPGs. He opined that NGOs in Nagaland go for numerous donation drives and whether such fall under the ambit of ACAUT’s radar. Taking this query further, ACAUT Nagaland has passed a resolution that no NGOs, including student bodies should undertake any sort of donation drives in the market. Free and voluntary membership drive was undertaken.
Longleng District: On 25th morning, the Longleng Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI) received ACAUT team at the Mon-Longleng district border and the team was greeted with the banner “Welcome to Longleng, ACAUT Nagaland” fluttering at the entry point to the town. The meeting was attended by Phom Peoples’ Council (PPC), Phom Students’ Conference, Chairmen and GBs of Longleng town, GB Association Longleng District, DBs, Chairmen of Longleng villages and the business community. The PPC and other leaders expressed their full support for the ACAUT movement. On behalf of PSC, its Assembly Secretary, K. Chingnyu also expressed full support for ACAUT and he appreciated the latter for taking up the common cause of Nagas. The leaders also asked ACAUT to mobilize grass-root level support and in this regard, the Phom people promised to take up the slogan “One Government One Tax” with all the 37 villages in Longleng district. Very importantly, the Phom leaders suggested that no village councils and tribal hohos should give “Recommendation letter” to any individuals seeking to join the UG factions as such contradicts the principle of One Government One Tax.
Mokokchung District: The public meeting in Mokokchung was organised by MCCI under the aegis of Ao Senden 26th March and the main speaker was Khekiye K Sema, IAS (retd). The AKM, Watsu Mundang, officials of the 6 Ao ranges, officials of 20 odd Ao villages, the apex Ao youth organisation, GBs, Colony ward chairmen, Church leaders, business community and the general public attended the meeting. The President of Ao Senden, Prof. Sangyu Yaden opined that ACAUT should be transparent in its dealings and appreciated the movement against unabated taxation. The President of Watsu Mundang as well as the General Secretary of the AKM extended the full support of the organisations towards the movement. Later, in the interactive session, ACAUT Nagaland clarified that MCCI members giving tax to one faction is not in consonant with One Government One Tax policy. Rather, such is an encouragement of one faction over the others or propagating factionalism in the movement. The leaders of Mokokchung promised to take up the issue of One Government One Tax at an appropriate time.
The MCCI expressed concern that government agencies like police, veterinary, Forest and Excise department collect tax at the gates and other locations too. A very serious allegation of misconduct was shared where Excise personnel harass truck drivers to declare every consignment in the truck item wise if traders refuse to pay up. It was also learnt that Forest personnel collect money from shops which is clearly illegal.
The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Nagaland Chapter President, Dr. Aotoshi justified the ACAUT movement from an economic perspective.
Tuensang District: The meeting at Tuensang on 27th morning was represented by all the tribes of Tuensang, namely, Yimchunger Union Tuensang Town, Phom Union Tuensang Town, Khiamniungan Union Tuensang Town, Sangtam Union Tuensang Town and Chang Tribal Council. The ENPO, Chang Khulei Setsang, Pastors’ Union Tuensang Town, GBs Union Tuensang, DBs Union Tuensang, Tuensang Village Citizen Union, Confederation of Chang Students’ Union (CCSU) and a host of other organisations attended the meeting hosted by Tuensang Chamber of Commerce.
Like Dimapur, Tuensang town is plagued by syndicate system, termed Agencies. The president of Pastors’ Union Tuensang Town shared that syndicate system is prevalent in many commodities including potato and pan-patta. A member of Chang GB Union Tuensang Town rued that taxation at the interstate gates is levied more for Tuensang bound vehicles. He also lamented that police tax even the plying taxis and checking is more for Tuensang vehicles. The ACAUT Nagaland is of the opinion that this is one reason why Eastern Nagaland people feel alienated. Yimchunger Union member opined that tax deducted by Nagaland government is more than UG tax. To bolster his point, he stunned the audience when he alleged that after deductions, contractors are left with only 25% of the work order amount to carry out the actual work. Phom Union said that GBs in Tuensang should not collect tax on behalf of the UGs. Both the Sangtam Union Tuensang Town and GB union came out in full support of One Government One Tax. The CCSU also cautioned the GBs from collecting Tax and extended its full support towards One Government One Tax.
In a most heartening news, it was disclosed that, Tuensang Village, also the landowners of Tuensang town, have not been paying tax to any of the factions in Nagaland since 1995 save for the period 2004-05. Tuensang village has been implementing the principle of One Government One Tax for almost 20 years now and it is the only village in Nagaland to abide by this slogan. The Tuensang Chamber of Commerce revealed that business community in Tuensang pay tax to 5 different factions. Overall, there was huge support for the ACAUT movement.
Wokha District: The Chamber of Commerce, Wokha organised the meeting on 28th March. Kyong leaders from all walks of life including Kyong Hoho, Lotha Youth Hoho, Kyong students Union, Kyong Women Hoho, leaders from neighbouring villages such as Longsa and Wokha village, GB Union Wokha District, DBs, ward chairmen and business people attended the meeting.
All the Kyong organisations reiterated its support for the ACAUT movement and the slogan of One Government One Tax. An elderly leader also suggested that ACAUT nomenclature should read as Against Corruption and Unlimited Taxation. Later, at the interactive session, it surmised that one of the UG factions had warned Kyong leaders not to set up local ACAUT in Wokha district. Due to the untiring and bold effort of business and community leaders, the syndicate system in essential commodities prevalent in Wokha till 2013 was smashed.
Tseminyu Sub-Division: The first stop was Kandinu village. ACAUT members halted at Kandinu with a view to reach out to the powerhouse called Naga village. ACAUT is of the view that One government One Tax may better take hold only if individual Naga villages make an informed decision to support it, that is, through a bottom up approach.
A public meeting was organised at Tseminyu town under the initiative of Rengma Hoho and attended by Rengma Students’ Union, Rengma Mothers’ Association, Rengma Village Council Chairmen Forum (RVCCF) representing 35 Rengma villages, Trade Union Tseminyu Town, Rengma GBs Association, DBs, ward chairmen and youths. Khekiye K. Sema appealed to the Rengma leaders to be the first tribe to stand up against unabated taxation and adopt One Government One Tax. He reminded Rengmas of their history when the 1st Naga national flag representing One Naga Government was hoisted at Parashen on 22nd March 1956. Just as Rengmas stood for One Government then, Rengmas should stand for One Tax and One Government now instead of patronizing the 7 factions fighting for 7 different kinds of sovereignty, he asserted. On their part, the Rengma leaders assured that ACAUT’s concern would be taken to the Rengma people.
RVCCF leaders averred that taxation should not be forced upon the villages by any factions and if so, it’ll be against the will of the Rengma people. The village leaders also complained that MNREGA fund is not being properly sanctioned for the villages. A village chairman also complained that most of the tribal Hoho and church leaders in Nagaland have been bought over by Bolero vehicles gifted by Ministers or are under the monetary influence of politicians and thus corrupted.
The ACAUT is grateful to the people of these districts for welcoming ACAUT enthusiastically into their midst. During the course of our tour, every arrangement was made for our comfortable stay and special appreciation may be made to the Chamber of Commerce of all the districts.