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Cong warns of protests over Imchen

Kohima, Nov. 25: The Congress today said it would launch a series of agitation programmes from Wednesday to protest Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio’s refusal to axe tainted minister Imkong L. Imchen from the cabinet.

At Congress Bhawan here this afternoon, party leaders announced that a poster campaign would be launched on Wednesday, followed by a sit-in in front of the Nagaland secretariat on Friday and a 12-hour strike on December 3.

The strike is likely to affect four districts — Kohima, Dimapur, Mokokchung and Zunheboto. However, sources said the Naga People’s Front (NPF) will try to foil the strike which might create tension.

“It’s okay if the NPF wants to retaliate,” leader of the Congress Legislative Party, Tokheho Yepthomi, said. The strike may go on longer if Imchen is not dropped.

The protests are likely to effect the most important days of the Hornbill Festival. “Why will Kohima not be affected?” Yepthomi asked.

The Congress has been calling for the removal of health and family welfare minister Imkong L. Imchen from the cabinet. The Nagaland People’s Front legislator had been arrested by the Assam Rifles on February 18 in Wokha for carrying unaccounted for cash amounting to Rs 1.1 crore, illegal weapons and liquor.

But Rio has been staunchly defending his minister. The Congress had recently sent a representation to the governor and the chief minister, urging them to drop Imchen by November 26.

The Congress said it might not boycott celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Nagaland’s statehood which President Pranab Mukherjee is expected to attend.

Imchen was carrying so much arms and ammunition that if ordinary citizens are caught with such weapons they are booked under the National Security Act, Yepthomi said. “The law is for all, not only for ordinary people,” he said.

On Rio’s efforts to defend his minister, the Congress leader said even Imchen’s personal security officer (PSO) and driver had admitted that he had ordered them to wrap the arms, ammunition and money in the bag. Security forces even videotaped the haul.

“We are not demanding his resignation as MLA but only from his ministerial post,” Tokheho said.

According to Congress president S.I. Jamir, when Imkong resigned as home minister after the incident, he was not chargesheeted. Now that the chargesheet has been filed, he should resign and pave the way for a proper investigation.

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