Abductions, diktats, intimidations mar run up to final phase poll
Nine women leaders abducted, Chandel tense
Source: The Sangai Express

Chandel, February 20: Following the abduction of nine women leaders including the president of Anal Women Union by suspected NSCN (IM) cadres at about 1.30 am today, hundreds of women folk came out on the streets today and blocked the road to ventilate their rage over the incident.

Outer Lok Sabha MP Mani Charenamei who had gone to over see the situation was gheraoed by the enraged women folk.

Contending that the women leaders were abducted in connection with the upcoming third and final phase polling on February 23, the women demanded the safe and unconditional release of the abducted women.

A bandh was also imposed at Chandel bazar today.

Deputy Commissioner of Chandel district, Norbert Disinang informed reporters at his official bungalow today that his office has got in touch with various social organisations to ensure the release of the abducted women.

The officer however said that it is as yet unclear who is behind the abduction of the women.

Interacting with media persons, a woman activist, Dr Khiloni said that the nine women leaders were abducted from their respective residences by armed persons, suspected to be NSCN (IM) cadres.

The armed persons included three women and four men, said Dr Khiloni and added that no reason was spelt for taking them away.

The abductions are most probably connected to the upcoming third phase polling, she observed.

Until and unless the abducted women leaders are released, no election would be allowed to be held, she added.

In connection with the incidents, a memorandum has been submitted to the Returning Officer of Chandel district to ensure the release of the abducted women leaders.

The nine women leaders are drawn from seven tribes inhabiting the district.

With the women folk blocking the road, no vehicles plied on the Imphal-Chandel road today.

Lok Sabha MP from the Outer Constituency, Mani Charenamei who arrived at Chandel to defuse the situation was surrounded by the women and gheraoed.

The women folk also raised slogans directed at the MP which were pregnant with meaning.

The slogans included, �Ensure the release of the abducted women leaders,� �Does Benjamin (a candidate in the fray at Chandel AC not sponsored by the UNC) belong to another community,� �You were elected the MP when Benjamin was the president of the UNC� etc.

The MP was surrounded and not allowed to proceed for quite a long time by the enraged womenfolk.

Tension has been brewing at Chandel district during the last few days.

On February 19, a peace rally was organised at Chandel by womenfolk demanding that they be given the freedom to exercise their franchise without any threats and intimidations.

The United Naga Council has also been accused of trying to coerce the voters to support their chosen candidates in the four Naga dominated hill districts.

The UNC sponsored candidate at Chandel Assembly Constituency is Francis Huten, while Benjamin is an Independent candidate.

The Congress (I) candidate had earlier withdrawn his nomination papers from this Constituency.

A peace rally scheduled to be held at Pallel yesterday was also allegedly foiled by NSCN (IM) cadres with the Maring Napuiya Yinglam accusing the armed cadres of detaining them at Meipou public ground, near Pallel.

The abduction of the nine women leaders come close on the heels of the abduction of an Independent candidate from Tamenglong Assembly Constituency by NSCN (IM) cadres.

UNDF spells out stand : The United Naga Democratic Front (UNDF), an alliance of the UNC sponsored candidates has stated that it will work outside the House, for a �Common Identical Programme� with other like minded Independent candidates in the State�, reports.

The UNDF is a political alliance formed by the �consensus candidates� of the United Naga Council (UNC) with S Kho John as its convenor a fortnight ago.

Expressing its resentment over the incidents at Chandel district, the UNDF said, �the incident at Kangshang village under Chandel district where the State police force sponsored by O Ibobi and DK Korungthang ransacked the office belonging to UNDF member and a candidate of Tengnoupal AC, W Morung Makunga is deplorable�.

The police commandos from adjoining Thoubal district also pulled down the flags and banners, destroyed poster and a Maruti Gypsy vehicle and snatched away a motorbike which need strongest condemnation,� added the statement While appealing to the authorities concerned to take up appropriate steps to avoid such incidents in the future, the UNDF statement observed that the use of State forces security forces is in total contravention of the Election Commission of India (ECI) � code of conduct�.

It further rued that the Thoubal district police forces coming into Chandel district without a proper channel is highly questionable.

The UNDF statement then warned that any unwanted and undesirable eventualities arising out of �these barbaric and communal acts of the state security force shall be held solely responsible by O Ibobi and DK Korunthang for misusing state machineries�.