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In Nagaland, govt. wings pay ‘extortion money’

National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) cadres at the outfit's headquarters in Dimapur, Nagaland. File photo   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

A probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has revealed that at least 12 government departments in Nagaland regularly paid “extortion money” to members of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), a banned terrorist organisation that was allegedly behind the 2015 ambush in Manipur in which 18 soldiers were killed.

Recently, one of the absconding members of the NSCN-K posted a photograph on Facebook, where Vikram Misri, Indian Ambassador to Myanmar, posed with NSCN-K’s military commander Niki Sumi, who is wanted for having planned the ambush.

He carries a reward of Rs. 10 lakh on his head.

Not a meeting

As per the Facebook post, the photograph was taken on the occasion of Naga New Year Festival on January 17 at Lahe in Myanmar. An official of the Ministry of External Affairs said: “A photo is not a meeting.”

 

An NIA official said the extortion racket was done in an organised manner and meetings were held in government departments to discuss the amount to be paid to banned organisations like NSCN-K.

More received money

The NIA’s investigation has found that the government departments paid extortion money to two more outfits: the NSCN-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and the Naga National Council (NNC). The Government of India has signed a framework agreement in 2015 with the NSCN-IM to find a solution to the decades-old Naga issue.

“We have records of at least 12 governments departments that were paying extortion money to the NSCN-K, the NSCN-IM and the NNC. These offices maintained receipts of the amount paid to these outfits and, in some cases, we have seized the ‘minutes’ of the meetings held to discuss the amount to be paid. The records in our possession are 2012 onwards, but the racket has been going on for decades. As per the documents, around ₹3 crore was paid to various outfits,” a senior NIA official said.

The NIA had conducted raids on Nagaland government offices on January 18 while investigating a case it had filed in 2016.

On July 31, 2016, a senior militant of the NSCN-K, identified as S. Khetoshe Sumi, was apprehended by Assam Rifles in Dimapur, Nagaland. He was the NSCN-K’s ‘in-charge of finance’ for the Kohima and Dimapur regions, and his main responsibility was funds collection through illegal taxation of government departments. After the NIA took over the investigation on August 17, one more accused — Victo Swu alias V.K Sumi — was arrested on September 28 in Kohima. The NIA filed a charge sheet against the two accused on January 25 this year.

“During the investigation, many incriminating documents were seized from government offices in Kohima, which proves Khetoshe Sumi and V.K Sumi, along with the other absconding accused, were involved in the case in connivance with government officials. These documents are being sent to the Central Forensics Science Laboratory,” the charge sheet said.

The charge sheet said: “The accused raised funds for a terrorist organisation through illegal tax collection and extortion from government offices.”

An NIA official said around 150 personnel from across India were flown to Kohima to conduct simultaneous raids on the government offices. “We don’t rule out the arrest of government officials. We have voice samples and signature specimens which point to their involvement,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 5:34:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/In-Nagaland-govt.-wings-pay-%E2%80%98extortion-money%E2%80%99/article17195281.ece

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