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Cops Detain Meghen Supporters

GUWAHATI, Mar 7: Police detained over 50 supporters of R K Meghen as they staged a demonstration near the NIA court where the chairman of the banned United National Liberation Front (UNLF) was produced on Monday.

The National Investigation Agency had charged Meghen and 18 other Manipur separatists for anti-national activities, extortion and attempts to buy illegal arms from abroad. The charges were filed in the special court of NIA.

On Monday, Meghen’s supporters had gathered near the NIA court in protest against his arrest. “We detained them before they could manage to reach the court,” said a senior city police officer.

The protesters raised slogans, seeking handing over of the case from NIA to the Manipur government and Manipur’s plebiscite. As the demonstrators, mostly from Manipur, tried to proceed towards the court, police detained them. They were lodged in the Sonaram High School Field, but later released.

Meghen, who has been waging an armed struggle for Manipur’s plebiscite under the UN supervision, will be produced in the NIA court on March 21. He has been stressing that it was for the Manipuris to decide whether they want to live in India or not. The separatist leader, who’s currently lodged in Guwahati Central Jail, said he was not ready for peace talks with the Centre.

The government had said that Meghen was arrested on November 30, 2010, in Bihar’s East Champaran district while he was crossing into the country from Bangladesh. However, Meghen has been claiming that he “was abducted by Indian and Bangladeshi sleuths in Dhaka on September 29” and forcibly brought to India. According to NIA, most of the other arrested militants were staying in Assam. Meghen, 63, is the leader of the 46-year-old UNLF, the oldest outfit among the 20-odd Manipuri separatist organizations.

The charges against Meghen and others include waging war against the country and raising funds through extortion.

They have also been charged with trying to procure arms and ammunition from foreign countries.

The UNLF militants sought the help of some Chinese-origin people for arms purchase, the NIA had said, claiming that it had evidence that “the accused transferred funds to countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar for purchase of sophisticated arms and ammunition”.

The NIA had also stumbled upon evidence that revealed the UNLF’s plans to “destabilize India” with the help of Maoists and three Manipur-based underground outfits. During interrogation, the NIA reportedly retrieved emails from Meghen that revealed the rebel leader’s bid to “coordinate terrorist activities” with the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and three Manipuri outfits the Kanglei Yawol Kanba Lup (KYKL), People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREEPAK).

(Courtesy: TNN)

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