The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), a Christian extremist and a Naga nationalist insurgent group, operating mainly in Northeast India, is now depositing its ill-gotten wealth in bank accounts to get rid of the crores in cash that can no longer be used following the government’s decision to replace old Rs 500 and Rs1,000 currency notes with the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denomination notes. The group is believed to have over 250 crore in cash that it has earned from levies on contractors, local businesses and government officials’ salaries.
Tribals living in the North Eastern states of Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and the Assam hill tracts are exempt from tax on income earned within the region. Therefore, all the income is unaccounted for and there is no concept of black money.
The NSCN, which is a designated terrorist organisation in India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, is working to establish a sovereign Christian state, "Nagalim", which would consist of all the areas inhabited by the Naga people in North East India and Northwest Myanmar, by overthrowing the elected governments in these regions through armed “resistance”. Though NSCN-IM signed a peace deal with the Indian government last year, its rival main rival faction, Myanmar-based NSCN (Khaplang), has rejected the deal and is fighting a guerilla war against the Indian troops.
Praveen Swami, writing for the Indian Express, states in his report that NSCN (Khaplang) is also looking at ways to send across an estimated Rs 100 crore that the group makes each year to be deposited into bank accounts and exchanged.
Talking to the Indian Express, NSCN-IM’s military chief Phungthing Shimrang said that reports of the group being handed new currency notes were “completely crazy”. “There are all sorts of rumours being circulated by our enemies in an effort to discredit us, because of the peace talks,” the Indian Express quoted him as saying. “Like everyone else, we have problems right now meeting the needs of our cadre and organisation,” he said. “But we have survived hardship in the jungles; this is not a problem.”
Intelligence Bureau, the report says, estimates that NSCN-IM’s actual earnings are almost three times as high. The group’s current cash holdings in India, the daily’s sources in the bureau say, are likely to be around Rs 250 crore.
Tax exemption laws in this region have opened the door for insurgent groups to deposit their cash in proxy bank accounts, thereby allowing them to maintain funding at a time when people across the country, including the poor, are sacrificing for the greater cause.
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