Outfit 'ditches' Rio, backs Cong

Kohima, Feb. 8: The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), once close to chief minister Neiphiu Rio, is said to be campaigning for a top Congress leader whom it once dubbed anti-Naga.

While security forces are doing their job round-the-clock to thwart any untoward incident and possible involvement of militants in the polls, there are reports of involvement of NSCN (I-M) cadres in support of a certain candidate.

However, the outfit said it has decided not to be involved in the February 23 elections.

"We have decided not to get involved in the elections," said deputy kilonser (minister) for home affairs Samson Jojo. He said action would be taken against anyone found involved in the state elections. All militant groups in the state have decided not to be involved in the election process.

The Congress candidate who is in the middle of the controversy, I. Imkong, is pitted against Naga People's Front candidate Longrineken and two Independents, K. Chuba and E.T. Sunep, from Jangpethong constituency in Mokokchung district.

The NSCN cadre reportedly campaigning for Imkong was identified as Maong Ozukum, deputy kilonser for chaplee (finance) affairs. Several armed cadres were with him.

The village council of Waromung village said Maong had come to the village and demanded 500 votes for the Congress candidate.

"The Waromung senso telongjem and Waromung village council strongly condemned such intimidation and coercion and pledged to thwart such elements to ensure free and fair elections in the village," Medem Ozukum, chairman of the village council, said. Imkong Ozukum, chairman of the senso telongjem, seconded him.

They also demanded an explanation from the outfit if they stand by its decision abut not to get involved in the elections.

The two village leaders said in the event of any eventuality because of the open involvement of the militant outfit in the elections, the village would not be held responsible. The three non-Congress candidates have also asked the outfit to stay away.

Imkong is a veteran Congress leader from Mokokchung district and was also leader of the Congress Legislature Party and PCC president. "The effort of the three candidates is to collectively defeat me," Imkong said.

The Congress leader, who is currently busy campaigning in his constituency, said he has not seen any militant campaigning for him.

The NSCN (I-M) today said its officials would carry arms during the election period despite the Centre's ban.

V.S. Atem, emissary to the collective leadership of the outfit, said the ban was against the ceasefire ground rules and all card holders have been allowed to carry arms by the Centre.

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