Red, rebel zones line up parallel budgets
On Friday, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherji will be all over television as he presents UPA-II’s second budget, reports Rahul Karmakar.
On Friday, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherji will be all over television as he presents UPA-II’s second budget.
Away from the media glare in the Northeast and the Naxal-controlled Red zones, at least 15 other “finance ministers” and “secretaries” of parallel governments run by militant groups are quietly working on their own budgets, which would be tabled shortly after Pranab Babu’s.
All rebel groups on ceasefire, or in the subversive mode, have scheduled their ‘Cabinet’ next month for a Budget Session.
n The CPI (Maoist) rebels collect Rs 320 crore through levy and taxes from Jharkhand alone, according to the 2009 edition of Indian Defense Yearbook. Naxalites control Jharkhand’s mineral rich countryside, and collect levy from coal firms, petrol pumps, transporters, contractors involved in building highways, bridges, canals, forest trade and kendu leaf sale.
n The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) (NSCN (I-M)), despite the truce since July 1997, has been running the Government of People’s Republic of Nagaland (GPRN) collecting textured ‘taxes’ and ‘registration fees.’ The NSCN (I-M) collects Rs 120 as house tax from every house. Non-locals procure identity cards valid for a year after paying Rs 140 per family member. Business establishments have standard annual pay-up rates: Rs 350 for a pan shop upward.
n The Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DSZC), active in Chhattisgarh and the Gadchiroli area of Maharashtra, raises funds through collection drives targeting construction projects, tendu leaf traders, miners and transporters.
The rebels’ budgets depend on the money collected in that particular year. In the Northeast, the rebels’ budgets range from Rs 8 crore to Rs 55 crore. Maoists had a Rs 1,000-crore budget in 2006-07.
For NSCN (I-M), the budget is prepared by the ‘chaplee kilonser’ (finance minister) after a Cabinet meeting. V Sema, former head of NSCN (I-M)’s ministry of information and publicity, said: “We will be having our budget soon.” Rival NSCN (Khaplang) group — its government is also called GPRN — reportedly had a Rs 54 crore budget.
Officials underplay the tax collection or extortion drive, such as the imposition of “tax” of Rs 6,000-20,000 per truck entering Nagaland. “Both the NSCN (I-M) and NSCN (K) claim to run their own governments, but their activities have no bearing on our functioning. We do what is mandated by the government of Nagaland,” Dimapur Superintendent of Police L Lotha told HT.
In Manipur, at least 12 outfits collect “taxes” from government employees. A government servant invariably ends up paying 22-24 per cent tax at the rate of 2-3 per cent per rebel group over and above the tax payable to the government. Traders and contractors pay on demand.
Elsewhere, the revenue collection is random. Ulfa and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) extort money from tea planters, oil executives and contractors. If notices don’t work, abductions for ransom do.
With inputs from B. Vijay Murty in Jamshedpur and Ejaz Kaiser in Raipur