Dimapur, Feb. 7: The leading Naga insurgent outfit, National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), today issued an ultimatum to Manipur’s Speaker and two cabinet ministers to clear the air on murder charges against them within a month.
The NSCN (I-M) set a month’s deadline to the three senior Manipur legislators to “come clean” in the sensational Elizabeth murder case. Otherwise, it warned that they would face the consequences in accordance with “our customary laws”.
Three MLAs — Speaker T.. Haokip, tribal development minister Ngamthang Haokip and public works minister Gaikhangam — have been implicated by James Kuki, the key suspect in the kidnapping-cum-murder case.
Lungnila Elizabeth, eight-year-old daughter of Manipur taxation minister Francis Ngajokpa, was taken hostage in November last year. Despite widespread protests and appeals from all sections of society, the child could not be rescued and her body was recovered from Sadokpam village near Imphal a few days later.
The NSCN (I-M) ceasefire monitoring cell issued the ultimatum to the Manipur legislators at a news conference here today.
The outfit’s deputy kilonser, (minister) K. Chawang, said it would not hand over Kuki to any authority barring the CBI.
“If the authorities don’t clarify their stand, we will mete out punishment based on our customary laws. We will leave no stone unturned in punishing all the accused involved in the gruesome murder,” he said, adding that one “Maj.” Asang was investigating the case.
A video footage of Kuki, who is said to be a senior activist of the Kuki National Army, talking to his interrogators in Meitei language, was also screened at the press meet. Chawang said a total of 16 persons, including one T.S. Shimray, were “arrested” in connection with the case but four were released after a thorough “investigation”.
Sources here said Kuki’s second wife Athouliu, who hails from Jalukie and is currently also in NSCN (I-M) custody, is another key player in the case.
The Ibobi Singh government in Manipur is unlikely to take kindly to the latest threat by the Naga outfit. Ibobi Singh had earlier defended his party colleagues, terming the allegations as part of the NSCN (I-M)’s desperate attempts to topple his government.
On January 22, the Manipur chief minister had also accused the NSCM (I-M) of conspiring with the state’s Opposition parties “because the present government is strongly opposed to their demand for Nagalim”.
The Manipur government had earlier asked the Nagaland government to use its clout with the outfit to hand over the key suspect to legal authorities.