`NSCN interferes in Manipur polls`

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GUWAHATI/IMPHAL, Jan 25 (Indian Express): The NSCN(IM), which sees parts of Manipur in its vision of a “Greater Nagalim”, is interfering in the elections there and even fielding some proxy candidates in some constituencies, a Home Ministry official said in Guwahati on Tuesday. Parties and voters in Manipur, too, have complained about this to poll authorities.

“The NSCN(IM) is openly interfering,” said the official, who sought not to be named. “Their leaders are proactively campaigning for some candidates, while a few proxy candidates have been also put up.”

In Imphal, Manipur chief election officer P C Lawmkunga said they have received a number of complaints of intimidation by cadre members and threats to people to vote for the one Naga party contesting, Naga People’s Front (NPF).

“We have alerted the Assam Rifles to ensure more protection in these areas,” Lawmkunga said. “We have requested the Home Ministry to ask the Defence Ministry to keep the Army ready in case the situation worsens. We have also requested that the Army increases patrolling.”

The complaints have been mostly from the hill districts of Senapati and Ukhrul, the CEO said. The NSCN(IM) has a strong presence in these and the other hill districts, Chandel and Tamenglong. Thuingaleng Muivah, the ‘M’ is the outfit`s name, hails from Ukhrul.

The NSCN(IM) last week issued a statement of denial. It said there was no question of “interfering” because it was in no way interested in the “Indian” elections.

Along with Manipur’s Naga-dominated areas, it has been demanding unification of parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with Nagaland for a “Greater Nagalim”. The Nagaland Assembly too passed a resolution to this effect a few years ago. This year, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Riu has toured such areas for the elections.

Manipur People’s Party (MPP) president Nimaichand Luwang accused of Rio of forwarding the Greater Nagalim cause Rio of forwarding the Greater Nagalim cause during his campaign for NPF candidates.  And the NSCN(IM), he said, has interfered in three successive elections.  “In the last elections they asked  people to vote for certain candidates in some constituencies.”  Six winners in the last elections reportedly had the covert support of the NSCN(IM).

K. Jayakumar, AICC observer for the Manipur elections, too hit out at Rio and said the latter was violating the election code of conduct by trying to divide the people.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram earlier this month reviewed the situation in view of reports about the NSCN(IM)’s role in the elections.  “There are reports that the NSCN(IM) might create problems during the elections, “That is why the Centre has dispatched a large number of paramilitary forces to the state.”  Altogether 366 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed across Manipur to back up the 40,000-strong police force.

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