Advani trades no intrusion assurance for release
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, October 07: Following immense pressure mounted by the Centre and the Ceasefire Monitoring Group and numerous other powerful lobbies, the State Government has released NSCN (IM) Home Minister AK Lungalang and his men numbering 12 who were arrested yesterday near Tulibari village on the IT road in Senapati district.

Union Home Minister LK Advani has also assured the State Government that the Naga rebel group will be dissuaded from pursuing their activities inside the territories of Manipur.

The NSCN (IM) leaders were escorted up to Mao by a Special Task Force of the State police and handed over to the Chairman of the Ceasefire Monitoring Group Lt Gen (Retd) RV Kulkarni.

AK Lungalang and his associates were released late this evening and were accorded a warm welcome at Senapati bazar by the people of the district.

Around 500 people came out to accord a hero's welcome to the Home Minister and his men, said sources.

The people of Senapati escorted the IM leaders upto Mao in around 50 vehicles including buses adorned with white flags.

Earlier in the day, a number of vehicles were blocked at Senapati on NH-39 by people who had come out to demand the release of Lungalang and his men.

The vehicles were allowed to proceed towards Imphal only late in the evening, said sources.

Announcing the decision of the Government, Chief Minister O Ibobi today informed media persons that the decision to release Lungalang and his men was taken after several rounds of telephonic talks with Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani.

The decision to release the IM leaders was taken in public interest, he stressed.

The Chief Minister said that the decision to release Lungalang and his associates was also dictated by the desire to promote the ongoing peace process between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India.

Recalling his telephonic conversation with the Deputy Prime Minister, Ibobi quoted Advani as saying, �The NSCN (IM) cadres violated the ground rules, you did your job but let us also do our job�.

Advani also assured that in future if the NSCN (IM) cadres violate the ground rules, then no rooms would be given to spare them from the due process of law, added the Chief Minister The Chief Minister further said that the Deputy Prime Minister reiterated that the territorial integrity of Manipur would not be compromised at any cost and assured that the NSCN (IM) has been instructed not to move with arms inside the territory of Manipur.

Following the standing assurance of the Deputy Prime Minister, the State Government decided to hand over the Home Minister of the outfit along with his officials to the Ministry of Home Affairs without any condition, informed the Chief Minister.

AK Lungalang and his associates will be escorted up to Mao and handed over the Home Ministry team, he said.

The decision to release the IM leaders was also dictated by the keen desire to foster better ties between the hill and valley people, said the Chief Minister.

Appealing to the people, Ibobi explained that his Government did what was expected of a Government against the NSCN (IM) and the release of the Home Minister and his men should be interpreted as a goodwill gesture.

The matter was also highlighted to AICC president Sonia Gandhi who suggested that the IM leaders be released as the Home Ministry has given the assurance that the underground cadres would be reined in from moving around inside the territory of Manipur with arms.

To questions from media persons, the Chief Minister replied, "no case has been registered against the arrested 13 NSCN (IM) leaders and cadres.

The one AK-56 rifle and two M-20 pistols recovered would be handed over to them�.

The Chief Minister also asserted that the NSCN cadres entered Manipur not to commit any criminal activities.

Though a team from the Ceasefire Monitoring Group is here to take back the IM cadres, they (cadres) would be handed over to them only outside the boundary of Manipur as the ceasefire is not in force in Manipur, further said the Chief Minister.