The outlawed Hynñiewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) militant group has rebutted yesterday’s arguments of Home Minister, Lahkmen Rymbui, saying that it well within its rights to levy ‘taxes’ on businesses as it is the true representative of the Khasi-Jaiñtia people with a government of its own.
This was stated by the HNLC Publicity Secretary, Sainkupar Nongtraw, through a press release today.
Yesterday Rymbui stated that only governmental agencies empowered by law have the right to levy taxes and what the HNLC demand of businesses is extortion.
Today Nongtraw hit back, stating that top figures in the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government are benefiting from levies on the illegal coal trade.
“If the MDA government can collect taxes from illegal coal supply then we stand firm upon our commitment to levy taxes,” he said. “Right from the political masters, police to bureaucrats, everybody has their own share. It is an open secret that a cartel is being run by the NPP-led MDA government, which is maintained by a few surrendered cadres and an ex-policeman along with the high ranking police officials.”
The HNLC is a government in itself, with various departments, including finance, home and foreign affairs, the statement added. The militants are also attempting to set up a government-in-exile, Nongtraw claimed.
Meanwhile, he also blamed the state government to the lack of peace talks with the armed group. Yesterday Rymbui said that talks could be held with the HNLC if only it halted illegal activities.
However, Nongtraw said that the government, especially the police, had “hidden agendas” in ruining the chance of parleys between the HNLC and the authorities.