Jan 24, 2012

Nagalim: NSCN (IM) Leader Plans Hunger Strike

As the detention of NSCN (IM) leader Anthony Shimray appears to hinder peace talks, he threatened to hunger strike for his release. 

Below is an article published by The Times of India

Jailed NSCN(IM) leader Anthony Shimray has threatened to begin a hunger strike at Tihar Jail, seeking his "unconditional release as he is also a member of peace talks."

In a letter dated January 18, the NSCN (IM) leader said the hunger strike is also for removal of every hindrance blocking peace. "Since the Indo-Naga peace talks is not under law/court of India, any member of NSCN involved in peace talks must not stand trial," he argued and asked the NIA to withdraw cases framed against him.

He stated that old-cases 1982 onwards must be cancelled in accordance with the agreement on peace-talks as framing charges against him for waging war against India cannot exist at the time of peace process and ceasefire.

Shimray was on his way to India to attend the next round of peace talks scheduled for September 29, 2010 when he went missing after landing in Kathmandu on September 27. He was later reportedly arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Recently, his bail petition was rejected.

Shimray alleged that instead of correcting the mistakes and strengthening the fragile peace process, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) dismissed his bail by opening old cases of 1982. "My detention under terrorist acts is a direct attack on the NSCN and an attempt to chain the Naga freedom movement under the law of India," he said.

He added that the NIA wants to convict and award him "life sentence" for conspiring and waging war against India. "In such a situation, I have no option other than going for a hunger strike. The cruel situation has compelled me take this extreme step," he said.

Last week, the NSCN(IM) said the ongoing peace process has been severely affected by the recent developments imposing conditions on the visit of the collective leadership of the NSCN(IM) to Nagaland by the Centre. "The directive has already affected the peace process. How can we move ahead without the support of the Naga people?" the convener of the steering committee of the NSCN(IM), Gen (Rtd) V S Atem said.

Addressing mediapersons at the Cease Fire Monitoring Group's (CFMG) office last week, Gen Atem slammed the Centre's directive imposing conditions on the collective leadership's visit to Zunheboto and termed it an "unjustified imposition".

"If the recent letter sent from the CFMG office has been written to us with the full sanction of the MHA, then the Centre has violated the spirit of ceasefire," he said.

He said the letter makes it clear that the Centre wants to keep the Naga people away from the NSCN(IM), which has been in a political dialogue for more than 14 years.

He said since the Centre was eager for an early solution, the outfit decided to call the collective leadership back to the state so the negotiations could be taken up on a 24x7 basis. "Since the talks have reached a crucial stage, we planned to interact with the people and apprise them of the progress of the talks and convince them about the outcome so they should give their full support to the solution," he said.