The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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NCP slams extortion

Shillong, Nov. 3: The NCP today expressed concern over the extortion by those manning the checkgates on National Highway 62 from the South Garo Hills to the East Garo Hills and extended its support to truckers’ organisations to agitate if the government did not control the menace.

In a statement issued today, the state unit of the NCP said it supported the move to enforce a road blockade to oppose the rampant extortion along National Highway 62.

There is a series of checkgates along the national highway, many of them illegally set up, and the truck drivers have to pay money at each of these.

The Nongalbibra Coal Merchants’ Association and the Nokma Joint Action Committee, South Garo Hills, supported the Goalpara District Truck Owners’ Association’s move to call a road blockade in the area if the Meghalaya government does not check the rampant extortion.

The coal traders and the trucker’s association had earlier petitioned the state government, but arrived at no permanent solution.

The truckers had even torched several checkgates in protest.

Eugene Thomas, the chief spokesperson for the state NCP, said it was the duty of the state government to ensure that authorised collection of taxes and royalty was made only in approved locations and by authorised people so that coal merchants and other transporters were not harassed.

“It should be ensured that only the prescribed amount of taxes or royalty should be collected,” Thomas said.

According to the NCP, the coal merchants and others have lodged numerous complaints but the government had not taken any concrete action.

The party alleged that NH 62 was in a pathetic condition and has remained so for many months.

It urged the state government to take immediate measures to ensure that the extortion is stopped. It also demanded that the road should be repaired without delay.

The inspector-general of police (law and order), B.L. Buam, who is camping in Garo hills, told The Telegraph today that action would be taken against those who illegally collect taxes on the highway.

“We are also meeting the aggrieved parties and are in touch with the district administration to find a solution to the problems faced by the truckers,” he said.

According to the police official, his duty was also to see that the truckers do not evade taxes to be paid to the genuine checkgates erected by the government agencies.

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