HNLC warns strong action against Benami transaction

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The proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has said it would identify and issue the death penalty against individuals indulging in Benami transaction, middlemen and corrupt government officials.

 In a statement issued on Tuesday, HNLC general secretary cum publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw said it is time that HNLC takes its own course of action since the anti Benami laws have failed to take cognizance against Benami practices.

 “It is warning to the above-mentioned businessmen, government employees and middlemen that they should immediately stop this practice. This time it is bullets that shall speak,” he said.

 “The HNLC has decided to identify and issue the death penalty to individuals who have been carrying on their unscrupulous activities. We have decided to cure away this cancer and the only option left is to give them capsules (Bullets) for individuals and IED for factories,” he added.

 Nongtraw also stated that the statement should be taken on a serious note as “we are going to take stern action against Benami businessmen, corrupt government officials and middlemen. Knowing that this operation might consume a few lives we are not bothered and can go to any extent in order to do away with this practice.”

 Terming the existing law as a toothless tiger, Nongtraw said the state in spite of having passed the  Meghalaya (Benami Transactions Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2018  whereby it had proposed to amend certain provisions of the Meghalaya (Benami Transactions Prohibition) Act, 1980 (Meghalaya Act No 24 of 1980) by inserting section 2 (e) and Section 2 (f).

 It is also proposed to amend Sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Meghalaya (Benami Transactions Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2016 of Act No. 4 of 2016 to enable the state government to constitute a committee or an authority in each district for receiving and causing verification of a complaint or information of a transaction in Benami in the state.

 He also reminded that the Meghalaya (Benami Transactions Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2016 was passed by the government as part of its endeavor to come up with comprehensive mechanisms to check influx and illegal immigration into the state, but till date, the act has been serving as a toothless tiger.

 Nongtraw said it has come to our notice about the existence of Benami businessmen in the public as well as the private sector including the corrupt government officers  of Khasi and Jaintia Hills and Ri Bhoi.

 Businessmen from outside the state are using the local businessmen, contractors as well as politicians to pump out money from the state via Benami transactions. By engaging into Benami trade and transactions the outsiders are evading income tax.

 He alleged most of the industries in the state are flourishing under the Benami route. Cement companies, coke factories, and other industrial units fall under the Benami practice.

Even petty businesses are being operated by nontribal businessmen under tribal names.

 He also said that after receiving several inputs from the people of Khasi hills, Jaintia hills and Ri bhoi the HNLC has gathered a lot of information about the existence of Benami businessmen.

 Also alleging that certain politicians are involved in the Benami trade, Nongtraw said these politicians have their share in industries and cement companies.

 He said at the same time there are certain individuals who act as (Dalal) middlemen in obtaining NOC and also single-window clearances from the state government.

 “The government sector also functions in the same way. Businessmen from outside the state participate in tenders by using the local contractors. Almost the entire state machinery is being infected by Benami trade practices. Contract works, supplies are all being manipulated by nontribal businessmen. The local contractors are thereby fully associated with the above practices. It has also come to our notice that even certain leaders of pressure groups from Jaintia Hills, Khasi Hills and Ri Bhoi, in particular, are involved.

Businessmen from outside the state in fact use certain leaders of pressure groups to unleash the virus of Benami trade and threaten other businessmen. It is rather a sad state of affairs that the guardians of the jaitbynriew themselves are involved,” he said.

 According to him, out of the 34 coke factories in Jaintia Hills, 14 of them had obtained clearance within five months.

 He said the employees of the state agencies that are involved in issuing clearances to the Coke factories, industries are also responsible for Benami practices.

 The HNLC leader further alleged that many government departments have become a money minting machine of the so-called high-ranking officials.

 Certain high-ranking officials are also appointed by politicians to benefit themselves into the give and take policy, he stated.