The recent media reports regarding the rise of cases of extortion from shops and business establishments in Shillong and also illegal collection racket along the highways in Meghalaya and news are matters of grave concern. That certain persons in the guise of NGOs are involved in this racket is also a matter of shame to our society. The presence of toll gates run by various persons and agencies has further aggravated the situation and showed that Meghalaya is a lawless State where anybody can extort money wherever he wants.
The illegal extortion along the highways is an eyesore to many. If you go to Umling, Umsning By-Pass, Umiam, Shillong By-Pass, Mawryngkneng, Mookyndur, Jowai By-Pass etc you will find civilians and police personnel indulging in extortion from all trucks. Even trucks carrying poultry, pigs, eggs and other essential items are not exempted. What is more serious is that this collection racket is connected with the illegal movement of coal from Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills as well as illegal movement of cattle to Bangladesh.
The lure of easy money is seen as a motivating factor which draws the youth into extortion related activities. The illegal revenue generated through extortion has had wide ranging ramifications on the State as it impedes its developmental projects. This adversely impacts the investment climate in the State and has a cascading effect on the overall economic activity of the State especially related to employment generation. The illegal ‘taxes’ levied on trucks is being borne by common people since prices of essential commodities and food items are bound to go up.
The State government should act now in curbing extortion. Neither NGOs nor police personnel should be allowed to continue with this racket. Stringent measures should be taken to stop all kinds of illegal collections and extortion. This menace has to be nipped in the bud once and for all. For that to happen, the government must show strong political will.