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Nagaland

Silent victims induce extortions

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By EMN Updated: Aug 23, 2013 12:15 am
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Staff Reporter
DIMAPUR, AUGUST 22

The first bleating sounds of the Naga public against ‘multiple taxation’ heard after decades of enduring the malady died just as suddenly.
The tone of such protests was not music to the ears of the NSCN (IM) leadership in talk with the government of India. They accused the body in this case, the Action Committee Against Unabated Taxation as orchestrating public opinion on “taxation” as causing a hurdle in their on going political dialogue with Delhi. This accompanied by a warning note to the members of ACAUT that this could lead to “unwanted incidents in the future” has aborted the “movement” for now.
And so taxation continues.
While the rhetoric of political sovereignty is used as a right by Naga political groups to silence public dissent over collection of taxes what about extortion? Lower ranking cadres involved, or assigned, to collect “taxes” always escape the long arm of the law because of loopholes in the existing law.
Data collected from three, out of the four established police stations in Dimapur, revealed that there have been at least twenty arrests so far in cases connected with extortion.
West Police station officials refused to provide information of the same on the contention that they were not allowed to talk to the media.
The arrest of extortionists, however, is not a guarantee that they will be punished under the law. In most cases, the victims refuse to lodge/file a case with the police. And needless to day, most of the victims are non-Naga traders.
In absence of a complaint from the victim, the best the police can do is file a suo moto case. And most times, their strongest evidence is either the ‘extortion slip” or the alleged sum of money “extorted.”
However, in the court of law, such “evidences” are mostly rejected and rather acts as saviors for the extortionists.
A prominent lawyer, on condition of anonymity, told Easter Mirror on Thursday that an extortion slip could rather prove that the extortionist himself was a victim. Normally, extortion slips are signed by some higher ranking official of the organization, who in turn details some of his “boys” to collect the money.
So when the “extortionists” are arrested and forwarded to the court, their lawyer argues that his client has been forced to deliver the demand slip, which in turn renders him a victim, the lawyer said.
There are loopholes and the court simply cannot give a random verdict, he said while adding that the public should also be aware of the aspects of the law. “Eighty percent of the law is in favor of the accused,” he said.
The best option, he said, was to make the public aware of the provisions and functioning of the law.
Top police officials of Dimapur also lamented that most of the extortionists, after arrests, escape unpunished. “None of the victims are willing to file a complaint, which is very discouraging for us,” he said.
Such loopholes and, reluctance on the part of the victims to go to police, have certainly not gone unnoticed among those involved in “extortion.” “Of course they take advantage of the situation and that’s why we continue to suffer,” the police officer shared. The law it appears is only for some and lawlessness a trait of others.

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By EMN Updated: Aug 23, 2013 12:15:57 am