Kohima, Feb 18 (IANS) Cash amounting to more than Rs.1 crore and weapons were seized from the vehicle of Nagaland Home Minister Imkong Imchen Monday. The minister said the money belonged to the party funds but said he had no idea how the arms got into his car.
Troopers of the Assam Rifles seized Rs 1.10 crore in cash, five pistols, two 7.65 mm calibre rifles and 140 round of 303 rifle ammunition from Imchen's vehicle at Sathupang area in Wokha district early Monday while he was on his way to his Koridanga constituency in Mokokchung district.
"Yes, the money belongs to our party (Naga People's Front) and it is our party fund, but I have no knowledge how the arms and ammunition were kept in my vehicle," Imchen told IANS.
He refused to speak further on the seizure saying that the matter is under investigation.
This is the second big cash seizure in poll-bound Nagaland. On Saturday, election officials seized Rs.1 crore in cash from NPF candidate H. Nyemli Phom after his helicopter landed at the Assam Rifles helipad in Longleng district.
Phom, who is seeking re-election from Tamlu constituency, later claimed that the money was given to him by the party and was part of NPF funds.
The opposition Congress has demanded that the Election Commission take action against Imchen for possessing illegal arms and ammunition.
"It is unbecoming of a home minister to carry illegal arms and ammunition. It is a serious criminal offence and the Election Commission should take action against him as per the law of the land," Leader of Opposition Tokheko Yepthomi told IANS.
Charging the ruling NPF government of using money and muscle power to win the Feb 23 elections, Yepthomi said: "The seizure of money from the NPF candidates reflects the amount of corruption that the NPF government has indulged in the past ten years."
"The people of Nagaland must realize that money seized from the NPF candidates is their money and they (people) should vote them out in this election," he added.
Nagaland will elect new legislators for the 60-member assembly Feb 23. Counting will take place Feb 28.