Imphal, Feb. 17: Suspected NSCN (I-M) cadre today abducted an Independent candidate from Tamenglong, a day ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to campaign in the constituency.
The abducted candidate, Khangthuknang Panmei, had ignored a diktat by the United Naga Council (UNC) which the NSCN (I-M) is backing, to withdraw from the poll race. The UNC is backing 11 candidates in the state and had asked all rivals to withdraw from the poll fray in support of its nominees.
Breaching blanket security arrangements for Singh’s visit to the campaign site, a stone’s throw from the abduction spot, suspected NSCN (I-M) cadre, numbering around 20 to 30 and armed with sophisticated weapons, swooped down on Panmei’s house at Namlalong in ward two around 2 am. The Naga militants overpowered 12 Manipur Rifles personnel and snatched eight SLRs, three 303 rifles and a carbine from the guards before ransacking his house. They also damaged seven cars and a motorcycle parked at Panmei’s residence.
All the 12 security personnel were suspended and a fresh batch of Manipur Rifles personnel deployed at Panmei’s residence. Panmei’s wife Lu Guilungliu lodged a complaint with police but did not mention the snatching of weapons from the guards.
Chief electoral officer R.R. Rashmi said security for candidates would be reviewed. Superintendent of police Gainairung Kabui said efforts were on to rescue Panmei.
Supporters of Panmei, today took out a rally from his residence and assembled in front of the office of district magistrate. They submitted a memorandum demanding that their leader be rescued.
Our special correspondent adds from New Delhi: “The abduction has nothing to do with elections,” insisted an NSCN (I-M) leader. “He had attacked a senior kilonser (minister) of the Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim (GPRN). How can we overlook something that goes against the interests of the people'” he said, adding that the candidate would “be released on strict conditions.”