The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) appears to have come in for special favour by the Narendra Modi government at a time when most parts of India are reeling under the impact of an acute shortage of cash as a result of the Centre’s ill-planned demonetisation measure.
RBI Springs Into Action
The Guwahati regional branch of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Sunday moved trunkloads of the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 currency notes worth Rs 122 crore to two Manipur districts – Ukhrul and Tamenglong – which are among five hill districts dominated by the NSCN-IM, top government sources revealed to The Quint. The jurisdiction of the RBI’s Guwahati regional branch extends to all the northeastern states.
The cash was flown out from Guwahati to Ukhrul and Tamenglong in a special helicopter, the sources said. The two districts received Rs 61 crore each.
Curiously, the same helicopter flew Rs 107 crore of the same currency denominations to Imphal, the Manipur capital – an amount less than what the two NSCN-IM-controlled districts received. This, sources said, was done to “appease” the Naga insurgent outfit which has been in prolonged negotiations with the central government and had signed a “basic” peace treaty with the government soon after Modi assumed prime ministership in 2014.
That the move to fly out cash to Ukhrul, which is the home district of NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, and Tamenglong as an emergency move was done to “pacify and assuage” the insurgent outfit is borne out by the fact that while the total population of Manipur is 27.22 lakh, the population of the two districts adds up to slightly over 3 lakh.
‘Decision Taken at the Highest Level’
Intelligence sources disclosed that the cash was directly flown to Ukhrul and Tamenglong while the amount received in Imphal was transferred to the currency chests of the main branch of the United Bank of India in the Manipur capital. “Clearly, the decision to hand out cash to the two NSCN-IM-dominated districts was taken at the highest level at the Centre and was done to meet the cash requirements of the insurgent group,” the sources said.
The move to “appease” the NSCN-IM, which comes at a time when the Modi government has claimed that the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes will hit militancy and terrorism in India hard, will have adverse political and economic consequences in the northeastern state where corruption is rife.
Favours to those Accused of Extortion
Besides, the NSCN-IM, irrespective of its negotiations with the Centre, continues to “levy taxes”, a euphemism for rampant extortion, from all categories of people, including government officials such as district magistrates and superintendents of police, in Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap and Changlang districts) where it continues to run “parallel” administrations.
The Guwahati RBI Regional Director B K Mishra could not be contacted on account of today being a bank holiday. Repeated phone calls to Manipur Chief Secretary O Nabakishore failed to elicit any response.