The National Investigation Agency on Monday summoned former Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang for questioning in connection with a case of alleged terror funding, the Hindustan Times reported. The agency asked him to appear before it in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Zeliang was chief minister of the state until last week, when Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party leader Neiphiu Rio replaced him following the Assembly elections held in February.
The Naga People’s Front, which Zeliang is part of, had led the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government in the state since 2003. The Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal (United) were the other members of this alliance. In February, ahead of the elections, the BJP broke its 15-year-old association with the Naga People’s Front and tied up with the Nationalist Democratic People’s Party or NDPP instead.
Azeu Namcyn Hau, a close aide, confirmed two summons were sent to Zeliang on Monday – but to the chief minister’s office and not to his home. He called it “political vendetta”, and said Zeliang would not be able to travel on Tuesday as the newly-elected Assembly starts its session that day.
The case involves alleged extortion by groups such as the National Socialist Council of Nagaland - Khaplang and Naga National Council from at least 14 government departments, IANS reported. The NIA asked Zeliang to appear for questioning with documents related to alleged payments made to the insurgent groups.
The NIA has accused several government departments and employees in recent months of financing insurgent groups through “taxes”. The rebel groups, also called the Naga National Political Groups, are known to run parallel governments and levy taxes on businesses and government officials.
In February, the NIA reportedly summoned three officials from Zeliang’s office – he was chief minister then – in connection with its investigation of extortion rackets in the state. The officials’ names had come up during an investigation into the payments made to the NSCN(K) from state funds.
The NIA had filed the case in August 2016 against the banned outfit for extortion of money from individuals and organisations. The agency filed a chargesheet in 2017.