Deomali (Tirap), Dec. 24: Former Arunachal Pradesh MP Wangcha Rajkumar may have been assassinated for on-ce hobnobbing with the Khaplang faction of the NSCN, much to the annoyance of the rival Isak-Muivah group.
Police today hinted at the NSCN(I-M)s involvement in the killing, the first of a political leader in a state that does not have a homegrown militant group but has become the playground of outfits from Assam and Nagaland.
Tirap superintendent of police C.K. Mein said some youths claiming to be members of the NSCN(I-M) had threatened to eliminate Rajkumar a few months ago. He also admitted that the police had received information about a plot to kill the flamboyant politician.
Rajkumar distanced himself from the Khaplang group only around 2000, when the outfit began to lose ground in Tirap district and the NSCN (I-M) became the dominant force in the area.
The former MP was playing a game of badminton in a community hall near his Deomali residence yesterday evening when the killers struck. The sub-divisional officer of Deomali, S.C. Debnath, was one of the witnesses to the assassination.
I was outside the community hall with three of my colleagues. It was around 7.30pm and we saw two masked gunmen with automatic weapons arriving. They overpowered Rajkumars guard and driver. One of them entered the hall, while another guarded the entrance. We heard gunshots and ran helter-skelter. The gunman and his accomplice fled after pumping several bullets into the former MP, Debnath said.
Rajkumars brother arrived at the scene of crime soon after and took him to a primary health centre, where he was declared dead at 8.10pm.
The slain leader, also a former Congress minister, took three bullets on his body, one of which pierced the liver.
Debnath said Rajkumar used to play badminton in the community hall almost every evening. Investigators said the killing was well-planned. .
Deomali subdivision, 50km from Khonsa town, plunged into grief as news of Rajkumars death spread. We lost our beloved prince. His father Wangmai Rajkumar was the king of Namsang village, said a tearful Kimsin, 35.
The sprawling community hall, only about half-a-km from Rajkumars residence, was built in 2002 with a personal contribution of Rs 4 lakh from him. Yesterday, the floor of that very hall was smeared with his blood.
Rajkumars wife and 14-year-old son accompanied his body to Namsang village, where the last rites will be performed tomorrow. Ironically, the slain politician had only yesterday visited Mahadevpur in Lohit for the funeral of PCC chief Omem Moyong Deori.