Other States

Naga tribe declines to pay ‘taxes’ to extremist groups

File Photo: A Konyak Naga with his face tattooed with natural colour tribesman in his traditional dress at the Hornbill festival in Kisama Heritage village.   | Photo Credit: RITU RAJ KONWAR

A Nagaland tribe has declined to pay “taxes” to several extremist groups in the State unless they united for the greater cause of the Nagas.

The “no unity, no tax” declaration by the Konyak community in the State’s Mon district is believed to be a move to provide fiscal relief to the people by ending multiple taxation.

Nagaland has several extremist groups and all except a hardliner faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) have signed ceasefire agreements with the Centre. Each of these groups runs parallel governments and extracts taxes from the people, the police personnel included.

People end up paying at least 24-25% of their annual income to these extremist groups, and defiance has at times been met with a violent response.

The decision by the Konyak Union, the apex body of community-based organisations is the first tribe-specific instance of resisting “taxation”. A civil society organisation called Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) was the first to speak out against taxation by the groups in 2015, but it represented all Naga and non-Naga communities.

“Since the beginning of the Naga independence movement, the Konyaks, or for that matter the other Naga tribes, had endorsed sovereignty/integrity to protect the people and their land despite suffering brutality at the hands of the Indian military but even after such sacrifices, the Naga national workers continued to remain divided,” the Konyak Union said in a statement.

Representing Konyaks from all walks of life, the union said the division not only burdened the Nagas with multiple taxes but also came in the way of achieving an early and acceptable solution to the vexed “Naga political problem”.

Insisting on the slogan of “unity first”, the union resolved that the Konyaks would temporarily refrain from paying taxes to any group until they come together for a unified Naga solution. They asked all concerned to adhere to the “Konyak referendum until further affirmation”.

The Centre has been holding separate peace negotiations with the Naga National Political Groups, which is a conglomerate of eight rebel groups, and the Isak-Muivah faction of the NSCN. The talks since 1997 are yet to yield any solution.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 9:31:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/naga-tribe-declines-to-pay-taxes-to-extremist-groups/article34335815.ece

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