I am a fan of ACAUT because it’s a cut above the rest. But this Nagaland-based organisation is much more than an opportunity for a weak pun.
Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) displays courage above and beyond normal in a state with immensely corrupt state machinery, and with several active, heavily armed rebel groups that freely impose parallel administrations as well as system of donations and outright extortion.
On 18 June the citizen-watchdog took on the largest Naga rebel group, National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN (I-M). A few days earlier the rebel group was widely regarded as having stopped road-widening work on a stretch of the Dimapur-Kohima national highway, demanding a cut of the fee. Local media reported accompanying or-else threats to burn down machinery of the project’s contractors.
No other rebel group in the area has the heft or gumption to act so brazenly, even as it conducts to my mind a largely hollow peace negotiation with the Government of India.
ACAUT waded right in. It released to media a “three-day ultimatum” for NSCN (I-M) to come clean. Had the group “demanded tax”? If so, was it the group’s policy to “stop all developmental works” in Nagaland till a settlement was arrived at with government? If not, would the group’s leadership contemplate “action” against “rogue” cadres and expose such rogue elements “with their complete identity and designations, so that people of Nagaland know who these anti-people are?”
Alongside, the watchdog urged contractors to deliver quality work, and asked the state government to not sit idle as Nagaland was yet again held to ransom.
NSCN (I-M) will expectedly be livid, but ACAUT simply doesn’t give a damn. Last year the organisation earned the rebel group’s wrath when it raised matters of extortion. What is this “nuisance called ACAUT?” the group shot back, adding with a sentimental twist…