NIA announces cash rewards for Tirap massacre NSCN (IM) accused, MLA contestant under NIA radar

[ Tongam Rina ]

ITANAGAR, Sep 26: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has announced cash rewards for five NSCN (IM) members wanted in the 21 May, 2019 Tirap massacre case, in which Khonsa West MLA Tirong Aboh and 10 others were assassinated in Pansumthong village near Khonsa.

The NIA made the announcement via social media on Friday. It has announced a reward of Rs 3 lakhs on Maj Gen Absolon Tangkhul @ Rockwang Tangkhul @ Baba, who resides in Dimapur, Nagaland.

Absolon Tangkhul is believed to be one of the masterminds of the massacre, along with James Kiwang. There is a Rs 2 lakh cash reward for anyone giving information leading to the arrest of Kiwang.

Absolon Tangkhul was the operation commander for Tirap, Changlang and Longding, while Kiwang, a Myanmarese national settled in Tirap, was a kilonser and a member of the NCSN (IM)’s civil wing. Both of them lived in Khonsa but disappeared after the massacre.

Their houses in Dimapur were raided on 5 March this year.

Official sources had earlier informed this daily that Absolon Tangkhul was one of the main persons behind the assassination of former MP Wangcha Rajkumar, who was killed in Deomali on 23 December, 2007, while he was playing badminton.

Tangkhul was out on bail for Rajkumar’s murder when the Khonsa massacre was carried out on 21 May last year.

The NIA has also announced a cash reward of Rs 3 lakhs for the arrest of Captain Victor Tangkhul, who is a resident of Manipur; Lt Col Apem, who is a commander of the Samsong battalion, Tizit, Nagaland; and Rabi Wangno of Dadam in Tirap.

Meanwhile, an MLA contestant of Khonsa West is under the radar of the NIA investigation, along with 21 other people.

Phawang Lowang of the BJP, who lost the 2019 election against the NCP’s Aboh, is being questioned and his involvement will be verified during the course of investigation, said a source.

4 arrested in Dibrugarh with cash from Khonsa Meanwhile, four people were arrested at the Dibrugarh airport in Assam with more than Rs 80 lakhs on 23 September, while they were on their way from Khonsa to Delhi.

Speaking to this daily, Dibrugarh SP Pratik Thubey confirmed the arrests and said that the four have been handed over to the income tax department for questioning.

The arrested persons have been identified as Md Jalaluddin Talukdar, Sanjay Kumar Swami, Sajan Singh, and Ram Avatar Swami.

They were allegedly given the amount by one Vijay Shankar Agarwal, a businessman in Khonsa. Sources say that investigation agencies are looking into their link with the NSCN (IM). Details are awaited.

The investigation so far

The NIA has filed two charge sheets before the NIA special court in Yupia, in Papum Pare district, and five persons are in custody.

On 27 January, the NIA had filed a charge sheet, in which it named Luckin Mashangva, Jai Kishan Sharma, Yangte Josaham and Napong Jenpi @ Jenpi. A supplementary charge sheet was later filed against Ellie Ketok on 31 March. They all remain in jail.

One Senthok Kangnong, who was also arrested in August 2019, is out on bail. Reliable sources say that he was questioned by the NIA but the agency could not establish his link with the massacre. His bail was not contested by the NIA.

The NIA had earlier said that “investigation has established that members of the terrorist group of NSCN (IM) conspired to commit the terrorist act of killing of Tirong Aboh, MLA Khonsa and 10 others. Investigation further established that the terrorist act was a result of larger conspiracy due to opposition by MLA, Khonsa of anti-development and extortion activities of NSCN (IM) in Tirap district.”

It said investigation revealed that Jai Kishan Sharma funded the NSCN (IM).

Those who were assassinated along with 47-year-old Tirong Aboh on 21 May included his workers and close relatives Wangngoi Hakhun (35), Jalin Hakhun (33), Wangngu Hakhun (30), Gamwang Hakhun (28), all from the same family, teacher Tangro Atoa (47), PSOs Poanhang Agi (38) and Khundong Siksa (50), driver Patwang Sumpa (20), Aboh’s son Along, and nephew Matlam.

Along and Matlam were 20-year-old college students.

Wangdan Hakhun (26) and Wangsen Hakhun (32) were injured and had to undergo long medical treatment outside the state. PSO Nokliam Tekwa and a worker in the Aboh household, Nyajut Hakhun, escaped the massacre unhurt. Nyajut Hakhun is also being investigated by the NIA.