Memo to PM on extortion

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By Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 4.06.05

Guwahati, June 4: A citizens? forum of Karbi Anglong today dashed off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informing him of the systematic extortion network that the United People?s Democratic Solidarity had spawned, taking advantage of the ceasefire.

Calling the ceasefire a ?bluff?, the Bokajan Subdivision Citizens? Rights Protection Committee gave a detailed structure of the ?extortion slab? fixed by the outfit for businessmen and the salaried class.

The UPDS entered a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 2000, but the talks with the outfit have not progressed much in the last five years.

Demanding the Prime Minister?s intervention to check such ?random extortion,? the committee said village headmen under Bokajan subdivision were given instructions to collect Rs 120 from each household as ?house tax? on the outfit?s behalf.

The UPDS has been collecting Rs 200 per month from small traders in the area, while the monthly ?extortion slab? for affluent businessmen is Rs 5,000. Autorickshaw drivers are forced to pay Rs 500. For lower primary school teachers, the amount is Rs 300 while high school teachers pay Rs 500 every month.

Pointing out how the ceasefire has turned into a farce, the committee cited an incident where UPDS militants opened fire on the headman of Morakordoiguri village under Bokajan police station on May 2.

A security analyst said this was a common practice for many other outfits of the region.

?All the militant outfits in the region are filling their coffers taking advantage of the ceasefire and the government tends to look the other way. It is an unwritten agreement that the outfits will fend for themselves,? said the analyst.

Militant outfits like the Dima Halam Daoga, the UPDS or the two factions of the NSCN intensified their extortion drive after they signed the ceasefire pact with the Centre.

The ire of the residents against extortion and blatant violation of truce laws by the outfits is slowly spilling onto the streets. On May 4, people of Bokajan subdivision organised a protest march following an extortion drive by the outfit.