Rajkumar Meghen, the chairperson of the Manipur-based insurgent group United National Liberation Front, was released from the Guwahati Central Jail on Saturday after serving a sentence that lasted nearly a decade. However, the next evening, he was picked up by a team of the National Investigation Agency and taken to a government guesthouse in Guwahati, unidentified officials told The Indian Express.
The Union Home Ministry had reportedly requested Meghen to not travel to Manipur after his release as the Naga peace talks are not yet over and the situation in the state is volatile. The peace talks have led to concern in Manipur, whose residents fear that a solution to the Naga concerns would come at the cost of the state’s integrity. Manipur has areas inhabited by Nagas.
Meghen was arrested by the Bangladesh Police and handed over to India in 2010. The National Investigation Agency charged him and 18 separatist leaders for their involvement in “waging war against the country” and “raising funds by resorting to large-scale extortion from the government and private bodies in Manipur”. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2016.
Meghen’s sentence was reduced because of his contributions like setting up a library, a music school for the inmates and construction of a rock garden inside the Guwahati Central Jail, reports said.
Meghen’s release came a day ahead of schedule. He was expected to arrive in Imphal on Monday, where he would be accorded a grand reception by members of his group. However, he was taken away to the government guesthouse along with his son RK Chinglen and his lawyer M Gunedhor, The Indian Express reported. The three men are likely to be moved to a safehouse somewhere in Assam outside Guwahati, officials said.
“I cannot disclose the location of where we are for security reasons, but RK Meghen is fine and we are going to Manipur tomorrow [Monday],” Gunedhor told Imphal Free Press.
Naga nationalists have fought for several decades for the demand of a sovereign ethnic homeland that would include Nagaland as well as the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and even Myanmar. In 1997, the rebel group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) signed a peace treaty and started a dialogue with the Union government. In 2015, the Narendra Modi government signed a “framework agreement” with the group. The peace talks were supposed to get over on October 31, but no final settlement appears to have been arrived at.
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