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27 Apr 2017

NSCN-K tax racket busted - NIA arrests three Nagaland officials

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui and Pankaj Sarma, TT, New Delhi/Guwahati, April 26: The National Investigation Agency today arrested three senior officials of the Nagaland government for their alleged role in large-scale extortion and illegal tax collection on behalf of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) from various government organisations.
An NIA source said the accused - the joint director of the social welfare department, Tulula Pongen, the joint director of the land resources department, Alienba Pangjung Jamir, and a cashier of the land resources department, K. Lashito Shequi - were arrested from Kohima today in connection with case registered at its Guwahati branch last year.
"They were produced before the NIA special court in Dimapur, which remanded Jamir and Shequi to five-days' NIA custody. The court directed Pongen to be admitted to a hospital after her medical report revealed that she was unwell," the source said.
"They were arrested after sufficient evidence was found against them for paying the militant groups. More arrests are likely," he said.
The NIA had registered the case number RC-01/2016 following the arrest of an NSCN (K) member, S. Khetoshe Sumi, in Dimapur on July 31 last year.
It has seized incriminating documents related to extortion and illegal tax collection from individuals and organisations in Dimapur and Kohima, according to the directions of the outfit's self-styled brigadier Isac Sumiand other senior leaders.
The subsequent probe revealed that at least 12 government departments in the state regularly paid money to members of the NSCN (K) and other militant organisations like the NSCN (I-M) and the Naga National Council.
Other state government departments, which purportedly made payments to militant groups, include the directorate of information technology, directorate of soil and water conservation, directorate of irrigation, directorate of rural development, directorate of urban development, PWD (roads and buildings) and directorate of information and public relations.
The NIA had conducted simultaneous raids in 14 offices of the Nagaland government on January 18 this year and interrogated several government officials. The agency also seized a large number of files and documents in connection with this case.
"The accused in their official capacity also provided substantial amount to the NSCN (K) by way of contributing government funds to the banned outfit, thereby supporting NSCN (K) in furtherance of its unlawful activities," said a senior NIA official.
They were arrested on the basis of their alleged involvement in paying huge amounts of money to various factions such as NSCN (K), NSCN (R), NNC and others.
This was revealed during the scrutiny of documents, including demand letters and payment receipts, which were seized during the search operations in the government offices.
"The unlawful collection of money was done in an organised manner and meetings were held in government departments to discuss the amount to be paid to militant organisations like NSCN (K)," the source said.
He said some government offices maintained receipts of the amount paid to the outfits and the NIA had even seized the minutes of some meetings held by certain departments to discuss the amount to be paid.
"The records in our possession are of 2012 onwards, but the racket has been going on for decades. According to the documents, several crores of rupees were paid to the militant outfits," the NIA source said. "These seizures prima facie indicate the connivance of the state government organisations in funding various underground organisations operating in Nagaland," he added.

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