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Road block, arrests mar PCC bandh in Dimapur

Kohima, Dec. 3: A 12-hour bandh called by the Congress in Dimapur from 6am passed off peacefully today, barring a few incidents.

Police had to resort to tear gas to disperse bandh supporters when they tried to stop tourists, who had come to attend the Hornbill Festival at Kisama, a Naga heritage village 12km from here, from reaching the airport by blocking the road leading to it.

Diphupar police arrested the president of the district Congress committee, Kughato Aye, and three volunteers from the airport area but later released them.

Nagaland PCC general secretary (administration), Medokhul Sophie, said apart from the arrests, the bandh was peaceful despite a warning from the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF).

The state Congress has been agitating since November 27 to demand removal of health and family welfare minister Imkong L. Imchen, who was arrested on February 18 near Wokha town with seven unlicensed guns, ammunition, Rs 1.1 crore and Indian made foreign liquor and was recently chargesheeted by Wokha police.

But chief minister Neiphiu Rio has been trying to defend the minister, citing several reasons. The Congress claimed that some “outside force” had asked Rio not to axe Imkong from the ministry.

“Repeatedly defending its tainted leader will continue to tarnish the image of the NPF, which has already been sullied enough in the past decade for its misrule. The NPCC is ready to call off its agitation the moment Imchen resigns or is removed as minister. Otherwise, the series of bandhs in different districts will continue,” a release by the Congress media cell said.

“Posterity will never forgive the NPF for protecting criminals, especially when the 50th anniversary celebration of the state is being observed under full glare of the world,” the release added.

Strike: A three-day pen-down strike called by the Nagaland Secretariat Staff Association to protest non-fulfilment of their charter of demands, including promotion, has hit work at the Nagaland civil secretariat since yesterday.

The government is facing several problems, including non-payment of salaries to teachers and government employees in some departments and improper implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and mid-day meal.

The Centre has warned that it will stop the Rs 100-crore allocation under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan if the government does not contribute its share of Rs 15 crore. Non-release of funds by the Centre has affected the salaries of teachers appointed under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.