Top rebel leader of Manipur walks out of jail

Rajkumar Meghen

Raj Kumar Meghen, one of the top rebel leaders of the Northeast and chairman of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), a Manipur-based banned militant group walked out of Guwahati central jail on Saturday after 10 years of imprisonment.

Meghen alias Sanayaima, the 75-year-old rebel leader belonging to the majority Meitei community and 18 others belonging to UNLF were convicted by an NIA special court here on June 8, 2016.

They were charged of criminal conspiracy, terrorist act and waging war against the nation. The court had given 10 years of imprisonment to Meghen. 

Meghen's lawyer Gunedhar Moirangthem told DH on Sunday that Meghen's 10-year jail term was supposed to end in September 2020 but the jail authorities released him on Saturday after remittance of rest of the terms.

"He was given the remittance owing to his good behaviour during imprisonment. He also helped the jail authorities to teach music to other inmates, having a library and a garden inside the jail," he said. 

Meghen was arrested close to Nepal border in Bihar in 2010 and the case was subsequently handed over to the NIA. UNLF seeks independence for Manipur.

The NIA had submitted two charge sheets against 25 people including Meghen, 18 faced the criminal trial, while seven others were absconding. Meghen was convicted under Sections 17, 18, 18 (B), 20 and 21 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Sections 121 (A) and 122 of IPC. 

During the investigation, NIA claimed that the UNLF was involved in largescale extortion from government officials and businessmen, particularly in Manipur.

The money was brought to Guwahati by human courier and was sent to Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar for the procurement of sophisticated weapons to carry our terror attacks and wage a war against the nation.

Some of the UNLF members were released on bail but Meghen did not apply for it. 

Sources said that Meghen will reach Manipur capital Imphal on Monday following which he is likely to address a public meeting. 

Many in Manipur consider Meghen's release significant amid the agitation by Meitei groups against the possible impact of Naga pact, which is likely to be signed soon to end the decades-old Naga conflict.

Meitei groups fear that the pact could meet Naga groups' demand for extending Nagaland territory to Naga-inhibited areas in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

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