GOALPARA, Sept 25 - Of late it has come to light that illegal check points have resurfaced at various strategic spots and are allegedly extorting money, particularly from the drivers of goods-laden vehicles travelling through the NH-37 across the district and this menace is continuing right under the nose of law-enforcement agencies.
Talking to this correspondent, some minitruck drivers from Goalpara, who regularly commute along this stretch of the national highway have alleged that they have now become the primary victims, as they have to dole out between Rs 50 to Rs 200 (between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 for bigger trucks and 12 wheelers) per trip to the extortionists at Salpara under Krishnai PS and then at Leyla and Dudhnoi, both under Dudhnoi PS falling under Rabha Hajong Autnomous Council (RHAC).
Meanwhile, Rahmat Ali (name changed), a driver of Mahindra pick up van, who commutes most of the time, complained that the extortionists sometime manhandled them and demand large amount incase they refuse to pay the requisite amount as demanded at these particular places without any receipt. He also said that as a result the fare between Goalpara and Dudhnoi has gone up from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500.
Talking to this correspondent over phone, some traders from Dudhnoi on the condition of anonymity said that many basic household commodities and building materials which they purchase from the wholesale markets of Krishnai and Goalpara have become dearer as the result of roadside extortion particularly, the prices of potatoes and onions which have become dearer of late.
They have honestly conceded the fact that they are reluctant to report about these illegal activities to the administration due to the fear of backlash, which may hamper their business and they resort to hiking the prices of goods and products to compensate for the loss incurred during transportation.
Meanwhile, referring to a question on raising their voice against these illegal gates, some conscious people from Dudhnoi area said that they choose to remain silent like the three monkeys which hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil and alleged that these have been operating with the tacit understanding with the local administration and the blessings of politicians alike.
Even traders from Goalpara whom this correspondent talked to have complained that they also have to pay goonda tax (between Rs 400 to Rs 1,000 for each loaded truck entering Goalpara including Rs 150 as municipality tax to a licensed travel agency) allegedly having nexus with the district transport office here.
Also, some traders have pointed out the lukewarm responses of the district administration in curbing the menace till now and urged the State Government to act decisively and remove these extortion points permanently.