In an incident of poll related violence, an alleged attempt to cause harm to National People’s Party candidate from 28 Koridang AC (Mokokchung district) T Chalukumba Ao by unidentified miscreants was thwarted by the quick response of his bodyguard, a Nagaland Police constable. The incident happened at New Market area of Mokokchung Town Friday evening.
Superintendent of Police, Mokokchung IPS Raguramarajan informed that the incident happened when the candidate had stopped at Mokokchung town to make a purchase from a shop at New Market. Asked whether it was an attempt on the life of the candidate, the SP said the incident was being investigated and few suspects have been identified but none arrested, he informed.
Earlier in the evening, Nagaland DGP Rupin Sharma took to Facebook to highlight the incident and announce a cash award for the constable who saved the day. In his post, the DGP wrote – “Heard about the assassination attempt on Mr Chalukumba today evening in Mokokchung. A person tried to cause a commotion and opened fire. However, Const Imkong of 2nd NAP Bn who was deployed as a bodyguard thwarted the assassin and fired a few shots.”
Police sources claimed that around 5.45 pm, some unidentified men were about to enter a shop where Chalukumba was present. The candidate’s bodyguard got suspicious, stopped the men and started frisking them. One of the two alleged assailants took out his pistol and fired two random shots, following which the constable also fired three rounds in the air and the miscreants fled the spot. The NPP Mokokchung division has filed an FIR at Mokokchung Town Police Station 1.
The candidate was on his way back from Impur where ABAM, an apex body of Ao Baptist churches had called all Ao candidates for a prayer meeting.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday had informed that 14 cases had been registered in connection with election related offences (clashes) in the run up to the Nagaland Assembly elections scheduled for February 27. A total of 96 FIRs have already been filed.
Meanwhile, speaking to indianexpress.com, Nagaland NPP president Ato Yepthomi termed the incident as “an act of cowardice.”
“This is extremely bad,” Yepthomi said, adding that his party candidate has emerged as a “dark horse” in the Koridang constituency and the other political parties are feeling threatened.
Asked if he suspected the hand of any rival candidate, Yepthomi said, “At this juncture since investigation is going on, I cannot comment on that.” But, he claimed that the police have arrested one person and the truth would be known soon. SP Mokokchung, who had said no arrests had been made, could not be reached at the time of filing this report to confirm the arrest.
Chalukuma of NPP is in a triangular contest with siting MLA and Nagaland’s minister for health and family welfare, I Imkong L Imchen, one of the strongest candidates of ruling Naga People’s Front, and C Lima Imchen of Nationalist Democratic People’s Party, which is in a pre-poll alliance with BJP. The NPP president claimed that Chalukumba has emerged as the top contender for the Koridang seat and now the fight is between NPP and NPF.
Interestingly, taking many by surprise, the NPF and NPP had declared pre-poll alliance with 11 days remaining for the poll day.
The Nagaland unit of NPP was formed in December 2017, and so it came as a surprise when the party fielded 25 candidates for the February 27 elections – BJP has fielded 20 candidates and Congress just 18. Ato Yepthomi informed that 28 candidates had filed nomination but the party withdrew three as it had a tacit understanding with NPF to support each other. The party is optimistic about its chances of emerging as the king-maker post polls. NPP is a member of the BJP-led national alliance NDA and also part of the BJP-led government in Manipur. It is also in a pre-poll alliance with the BJP for the Meghalaya elections.