Overview: Insurgency & Peace Efforts in Mizoram

Insurgency

nsurgency in Mizoram led by the Mizo National Front (MNF), which started with the infamous Mautam Famine of the 1960s, ended with the Mizo Peace Accord of 1986. Former insurgent leaders were absorbed into the political stream in the State, and following that, the State has remained, more or less, peaceful, except for the peripheral conflicts. Prominent among them has been the case of the Brus or the Reangs, who were forced out of the State to neighbouring Tripura in 1997, following alleged atrocities on them. Nearly 17,000 of them, whose number steadily grew to about 35,000 by early 2000, were housed in six relief camps in the Kanchanpur sub-division of North district in Tripura. As Mizoram government dithered over the repatriation of the Reangs, citing reasons like an inflated number of refugees, militant outfits like the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) and subsequently, Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM) emerged out of the camps and indulged in intermittent violence inside Mizoram and also in the border areas in Assam.

In June 5, 2009, the Mizoram Government decided to take back the Bru refugees residing in the six refugee camps of North Tripura. But the refugee’s repatriation from Tripura to Mizoram was stopped in November 2009 when a mob in Mizoram burnt down around 700 tribal houses after an 18-year-old Mizo youth was shot dead by unidentified miscreants. Following the incident, about 5,500 more displaced Bru/Reang tribals took shelter afresh in North Tripura. The process of repatriation began again on May 21, 2010 with 154 families, which fled from the state in November 2009, returning to Mizoram. By 26 May, 2010, about 235 families comprising 1,200 men, women and children had been repatriated in three batches to Mamit district of western Mizoram.

Other outfits like the Hmar People’s Convention-Democracy (HPC-D), however, continues to carry out its activities beyond the borders of Mizoram, mostly inside Assam and Manipur.

In May 2007, a new outfit called Singlung Tiger Force was formed, which later became the Singlung People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). It is an armed group whose cadres are drawn from the Hmar community having its bases in the border areas of Manipur-Mizoram-Myanmar. The ideology behind the formation of the outfit was to defend the rights of the indigenous Singlung people affected by the proposed construction of Tuirial and Tipaimukh multi-purpose hydel project in their area including the adjoining border areas of Manipur and Mizoram. Recently, on July 17, 2009, 64 cadres of SPLA laid down their arms and surrendered to the Mizoram Government.

However, a problem that is affecting peace in Mizoram is the smuggling of arms through its porous borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh. Mizoram's international border areas are frequently used by arms smugglers to bring in arms to the northeastern region.

Peace Efforts

Mizoram continues to be peaceful barring its odd experience with peripheral insurgency. It has managed to bring both the BNLF and the BLFM to the peace fold. Peace talks began between the Mizoram government and the BNLF on 7 September 2001. Both sides held several rounds of talks to reach at a solution. However, in spite of a peace deal between the BNLF and the Mizoram government on April 26, 2005, repatriation of the refugees into Mizoram is yet to begin.

The State police have not only kept insurgency under manageable level, but its anti-insurgency efforts yielded significant results. On April 22, 2006, a joint team of the Mizoram Police and Assam Rifles arrested four top leaders of the BLFM, including its ‘president’ Vanlalliana, ‘vice-president’ Vanrama, ‘army chief’ Romawia Meska and ‘lieutenant’ Lallawma, from different places of the State. The arrest subsequently led to the en masse surrender of 802 BLFM cadres on 26 October 2006.

In the beginning of 2007, the Mizoram government initiated a series of steps to bring the HPC-D to the negotiating table. On January 5, Chief Minister, Zoramthanga delegated Charlton Lien Amo, a legislator from Manipur, as the representative to negotiate with the HPC-D. The outfit responded by asking for the involvement of the Union Government in peace talks between the outfit and the Mizoram Government. A note issued by the outfit on January 11 said, "If there is any negotiation to discuss the fulfillment of the provisions of the 1994 accord signed between the Mizoram government and the HPC, the Centre must intervene." There has been no further progress in the negotiation process.