Kohima, May 7: Hundreds of shops and business establishments downed shutters in east Dimapur for the day in protest against unabated extortion by various militant outfits operating in and around the town.
The bandh was called by the East Dimapur Business Association and supported by several organisations and business communities of Dimapur. The state government has so far been helpless in tackling extortion.
This morning, a protest rally was held at Purana Bazaar, where people from all walks of life participated and condemned the anti-social activities unleashed by militants. According to a state government source, there are over a dozen militant outfits, including from neighbouring states, operating in Dimapur.
In the recent past, Naga organisations have held several rallies and marches in Dimapur in protest against extortion and kidnapping for ransom by militants. Because of the ongoing truce between some Naga militant groups and the Centre, armies have been confined to their barracks giving free passage to militants.
The Centre has come under severe criticism for being a silent spectator to the ongoing anti-social activities in society by militants. So far, the Centre has not come forward to stop the ever-increasing offshoots of different factions just for the sake of collection of money.
There are seven Naga outfits in the state, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), NSCN (Khaplang), NSCN (Khole-Kitovi), Naga National Council/Federal Government of Nagaland (Adinno/V. Metha), NNC (Nagi), NNC (Hozheto) and the Federal Government of Nagaland (Singnya). The Centre is in ceasefire with the NSCN (I-M) NSCN (K), NSCN (KK) and NNC/FGN (Adinno/V. Metha), which had signed an agreement to accept the Constitution of India in 1975, but the Centre has not acted upon those entities which have not signed a truce pact.
Even the Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT), a forum, which has been opposing multiple collections by militants, has failed to stop the menace. The NSCN (I-M) had warned ACAUT that its movement was taking a political dimension and would affect the ongoing Indo-Naga peace process. The Centre had directed the state government for security to the members of ACAUT, which was declined. The nature of ACAUT campaign was mostly directed towards the Naga militant groups leaving aside the most chronic issue of corruption which has plagued the state government for quite sometime.
Sources said the outfits have been collecting money from shops, business establishments and goods carriers under the very nose of administration and police. They collect from vehicles at the New Field gates near the Assam border, apart from collections by different government agencies like the police, excise, municipal council and various organisations.
“The police stand at the gates to collect money and not to check,” a resident of Dimapur said. He said government agencies have shown militants the way — how to extort. He said the police hardly catch any illegal consignments at the gates.
Similar outrageous situations prevail in other towns like Kohima, Mokokchung, Zunheboto and Wokha too.