Itanagar: Several instances of illegal taxes being allegedly collected by police and traffic personnel from transport and commercial vehicle drivers have reportedly emerged in Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh.
Owners of these vehicles also complain about the establishment of various makeshift check points in several places of Itanagar.
“Our vehicles are made to pay Rs 100 on every consignment they carry as entry tax at various check posts by the police personnel on duty. It happens whenever my driver comes in or goes out of the capital; it doesn’t matter what goods he is transporting,” a local owner of commercial vehicles, who did not want to be named, informed this correspondent.
“If the consignment is supposed to be delivered to Kurung Kumey from Itanagar or vice versa, my driver pays Rs 100 each at the Doimukh, Yazali and Palin check posts. This takes the total to Rs 300 for one trip and Rs 600 for both ways. My vehicles make several such trips in a month. So you can imagine the amount I pay in the name of ‘taxes’. This I think is illegal. At times, it becomes quite frustrating for us stay back and watch this illegal concept in action,” the owner added.
A taxi driver who also drives his self-owned SUV for one of the taxi counters in Itanagar, on condition of anonymity, said that “this is a compromise that most of the drivers have made with the police personnel”.
Most of the shared-taxis which ply on long-distance routes are private. The police and the drivers themselves know that this is an offence. “So, the drivers pay a certain amount to the police personnel on a monthly basis,” the cab driver said.
Although we pay a fixed amount every month, those who are new or ply less on these routes pay Rs 100 for a trip, he added.
A local resident, who regularly travels towards the eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh, said that he has normally witnessed cab-drivers paying money to the police at the Banderdewa check post.
“I once asked one of the drivers why and for what was he paying the money and whether he gets a receipt for the same. The driver did not give me an apt answer but he said the payment was for permit and there is no receipt given,” the traveler said.
All Arunachal Pradesh Public Transport Federation president Dobing Sonam said that his federation is aware of the matter and has also apprised the same to the top cops on many occasions.
“We have raised this matter in meetings with the heads of the police department. They tell us that they would take action, but, we still receive complaints from the drivers,” said Sonam.
“For me, the fault is mostly of the drivers as they do not make proper permits, own commercial driving licences and carry proper documents. But having said that, what is wrong is wrong and the police should book them accordingly instead of collecting the ‘so-called taxes,” Sonam added.
Sonam further went on to state that his federation has been receiving complaints from drivers that police and traffic personnel, while taking advantage of the issue, collect ‘money in the form of taxes’ from the drivers in the morning hours by making makeshift check gates.
“I am not sure if the top police officials are aware of this. However, I have received complaints that the junior cops collect money from commercial vehicles in the morning hours by making makeshift check gates,” he said
Sonam further appealed the drivers and vehicle owners to shun such practices and always keep their documents intact so that such issues may never arise.
When contacted, Capital SP Tumme Amo said that he has already given out a clear-cut warning to all the police personnel deputed in the capital complex that if someone wants to accept bribe or encourages the same, then he or she may leave the capital as soon as possible.
Taking bribe will not only give the people the required push to break the law but will also bring shame to the police department which has been constituted to protect it, Amo said.
The SP assured that necessary actions would be taken against the defaulters.