Recent price hike in essential commodities has badly affected the common people throughout the country in general and the citizens of urban and rural areas of Assam are the most sufferers. Most of the consumer items are imported to this state from other states of the country, as the local production is not sufficient to cater the local needs. The state administration ‘lacking the will-power’ to establish industries, has to bring almost all manufactured goods to the state from outside. While entering into the state the carriers of such goods have to suffer a lot at the check gates established by the state government and managed by the state officials and the ‘brokers’ called ‘Goondas’ to collect entry tax as well as ‘Goonda tax’. Despite long protests by the trading community, the state administration has failed to curb this menace till now.
In order to avoid unnecessary detention and harassment, it is alleged that the carriers have to pay huge amount as these two taxes at various points. It is also alleged that these collections are done on the instructions of high officials and political leaders. The Goonda tax collection has become a ‘flourishing profession’ in the state now -a-days. Passing through all these tests the product cost comes to the highest level of almost its double of purchase value at the origin. The traders on their part have to add the entire expenses done for getting to their store room and then add margin of profit to maintain the livelihood for their family. Thus the prices of all the goods in Assam goes to higher side in comparison to other states.
Recently, the Assam Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi , confronting the ire of the people throughout the state, had an outburst on a particular business community indulged in the ‘black-marketing’ and assured the determination of his government to take drastic action against such people. His remarks invited serious reaction from every corner of the state. If the Chief Minister knew who was behind the scene of black marketing, why his government did not take action against them till now? However, among the same community, there are some ‘high-level businessmen’ who did not dare to react. They kept their lips tight with intention to remain in the ‘good book’ of the CM. Of course, the CM’s outburst was not supposed to be against them.
The trading community in Assam, has to oblige a number of organizations, political parties, students’ organizations, trade unions and NGOs etc; during the time of elections, functions, Bihu, Pujas and felicitations to VVIPs. They have to face the ire of common people by abiding their calls for Bandhs and other agitations. Despite all odds, they have to survive for their families’ livelihood. Above all they are always targeted by the people in power. Whenever the days of elections come nearer, they reach at the doors of the electorate begging their votes and support and as soon as they get power they forget them till the next term.
It may be mentioned in this connection that recently an editorial appeared in a local newspaper related to the same community, reminding the Chief Minister, the days of nine years back, when the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) government was in power, the same community helped him to return to the power, against whom his outburst was not to take their support. It was really an advice to the CM, not to be so much ‘proud’.