Kohima, April 22: People of Nagaland are facing a nerve-testing time trying to meet demands for money from various militant groups in the name of “nationalism”.
Investment in the state has been badly affected because of militancy despite efforts being made to attract investors, while many non-Naga businessmen have fled the state for fear of their lives.
There are now at least seven militant groups in the state — the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), NSCN (Khole-Kitovi), NSCN (Khaplang), Naga National Council/Federal Government of Nagaland (Adinno), NNC (Hozheto), NNC (V. Nagi) and FGN (Singnyu).
The All Nagaland School Teachers’ Association has directed its members not to attend their classes from April 24 as a mark of resentment against the abduction of two government primary schoolteachers in Wokha district on April 12 by the cadres of the NSCN (I-M). They were abducted from Hanku and Nitropen villages for not paying “tax”.
The association’s president, Ponchulo Wanth, said the teachers were frequently harassed, intimidated and assaulted for non-payment of “tax” on time.
The Nagaland Government Higher Secondary School Employees’ Association has also condemned the action of militants. The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) has asked schoolteachers not to pay any “tax” to the rebels.
Recently, the NSCN (K) demanded Rs 2 crore from a contractor in Kiphire district and after he had failed to meet the demand machineries were seized.
A two-lane road project covering four districts under the Northeast Special Accelerated Road Programme was abandoned last year after the contractor was fed up of paying to the militants.
The representative of the Union home ministry said many projects were abandoned by contractors because of rampant extortion by the militants.
A lady running a shop here said she has received a demand note of Rs 20,000 from a militant outfit and that she has to pay to other groups too.
She said apart from regular “tax”, militants also ask for contributions and donations.
A taxi owner in Kohima said they had received demand notes from six Naga outfits ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 as a yearly “tax”. “It is a sorry state of affairs,” the taxi owner said and blamed the Centre for the current mess in the state.
Another businessman said the Centre was responsible for several outfits in the state and insisted that the government should clamp down on those outfits. Militancy has become a flourishing industry in the state, he added.