Centre urged to release NSCN functionary

Kohima: Several Naga civil society organisations have urged the Centre to release a senior functionary of NSCN (I-M), who was arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA), "as a goodwill gesture in the spirit of peace and understanding".

In a joint representation addressed to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the organisations appealed for immediate release of Ningkhan Shimray alias Anthony Shing, "head of foreign affairs" of NSCN(I-M) in "greater interest of peace and respect for his rights and dignity".

A copy of the representation made by Naga Hoho, United Naga Council Manipur, Naga Mothers` Association, Naga Women`s Union, Naga Students` Federation, All Naga Students` Association Manipur and Naga People`s Movement for Human Rights, was received here today.

Shimray was reportedly arrested by NIA in India-Nepal border in September 2010 on the charges of procurement and supply of arms and since then put in Tihar jail. The letter said Shimray, who participated in Naga peace talks on several occasions since the process began in 1997, was on the way to New Delhi on the invitation of NSCN-IM leadership to take part in the peace talks which was scheduled to be held on September 29, 2010 in New Delhi.

"But on the way to New Delhi, he was picked from Kathmandu International Airport on September 27, 2010 and later, it was revealed that Shimary was arrested by NIA on the allegation that he was there to procure arms to wage war," the organisations said.

The representation maintained that "it is prudent to recognise that at this juncture when the Nagas are persuaded to the path of peace, such allegations and deliberate intent to identify, apprehend and isolate key Naga leaders away from the peace process on fictitious grounds is in no way helpful to either Government of India or the Nagas".