NIA summons former Nagaland chief minister Zeliang in NSCN(K) extortion probe
TR Zeliang’s close aide, Azeu Namcyn Hau, said the NIA has been told that the former CM will not be able to travel on Tuesday as the newly elected Assembly begins its session on that day.india Updated: Mar 12, 2018 20:58 IST
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has summoned former Nagaland chief minister TR Zeliang to Delhi on March 13, so he can cooperate with its probe into the alleged extortion activities of the banned National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang).
Terming the move as “political vendetta”, Zeliang aide and Naga People’s Front (NPF) leader Azeu Namcyn Hau said the investigation agency has been told that the former chief minister will not be able to make it because the newly elected assembly begins its sessions on that day.
“A devious game is being played against Zeliang through the NIA, which is now being used to grind the proverbial political axe instead of curbing terror activities,” the NPF’s press bureau stated.
NIA officials in Guwahati said they have not heard from Zeliang yet. But the NPF has issued a copy of a letter sent by the former chief minister to the agency, stating that he will not be able to comply due to a need to attend the assembly session as the leader of Opposition.
The NIA refused to explain why the summons was sent at this juncture.
“The timing of the summons is suspect,” said Hau. “Nevertheless, the agency needs to understand that as the head of the NPF legislature party, it is very important for Zeliang to be present in the assembly from March 13 to 26. The new assembly also has to elect a speaker.”
The NPF leader said two summonses were sent to the chief minister’s office on Monday — one at 12.15 am (through fax) and another at 10.05 am — but none to his residence. “What was the urgency that a letter had to be dispatched at 00.15 hrs?” the NPF statement asked, wondering if the NIA couldn’t “wait another day” in view of the session commencing on March 13.
Zeliang refused to comment on the development.
The summons issued by the NIA’s Guwahati office on March 11 required Zeliang to appear before the agency’s officers at 10 am on March 13 along with documentary proof of payments accorded to the banned outfit by various government departments. The agency had summoned Ruokuovizo, Zeliang’s officer on special duty, and Karibo and Kuirang, two public relations officers in the former chief minister’s office, on February 13. They were let go after being questioned for a few days.
The NPF is seemingly trying to link the NIA summons to the politics of government formation in Nagaland, which threw up a hung house. A statement issued by the party mentioned how another officer of the former chief minister’s office was summoned by the NIA on March 2 – just before the election results came in. “And he was interrogated from morning to evening for five consecutive days, until Zeliang resigned from the office of chief minister,” it added.
The NIA had registered an extortion case against the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) in August 2016, and arrested four government officials in this connection the following year. A chargesheet filed by the NIA in 2017 claimed that it recovered incriminating documents proving extortion activities committed by members of the banned outfit in connivance with government officials.
The agency also established that outfit chief Isak Sumi had ordered the illegal “tax” collection. Victor Swu, another member of the outfit, was arrested for his involvement in extortion activities but was later bailed out.