A rebel turned politician, former Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga has donned a new avatar -- that of a bestselling writer.
The 72-year-old’s first published book, Mizo Hnam Movement History (History of the Mizo Nationalism Movement), has been sold out within a week of its launch.
The book in Mizo language deals with Mizoram’s history from the British period to the rise of nationalism (or secessionist) movement in 1966 and signing of the Mizo peace accord in 1986.
“We released the book on March 7, and all 10,000 copies of it were sold out within a week. There is such a huge demand that a second edition of 5,000 copies is being printed,” Zoramthanga told Hindustan Times.
Mizoram has a population of nearly 1.1 million (2011 census), and books getting sold in such huge numbers is a rarity in the northeastern state.
There is demand for the book in Manipur and neighbouring Myanmar too.
“There aren’t any books detailing the Mizo National Front (MNF)-led nationalism movement. People used to ask me about it and since it wasn’t easy to explain everything in 25-30 minutes, I decide to pen the book,” he said.
Although he was busy writing his autobiography, Zoramthanga stopped it after 33 chapters, and started writing this book in September last year. He completed it within four months and published it himself.
The first edition has 40 chapters spread over 226 pages and is priced at Rs 150. A few more pages will be added to the second edition.
“Everything mentioned in the book has been taken from my diaries, which I have maintained for 41 years. Since it deals with history, I have written it in third person,” he said.
The book is being translated into English and is likely to be released across India in a couple of months.
“We are busy printing the second edition. The popularity of the book could be because it deals with a crucial chapter in Mizoram’s history,” said Bibhash Dev of Guwahati-based Bhabani Printers, which printed the book.
Zoramthanga was second in command to Laldenga, who led the Mizo movement. After the 1986 accord, the MNF joined the political mainstream and he became chief minister for two terms between 1998 and 2008.
The book contains several anecdotes of the MNF cadres, including how Laldenga and Zoramthanga were flown to Pakistan from Myanmar by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and their meeting with then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
It also recounts how peace negations between the MNF and the Centre began in 1974 with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) acting as a link. Zoramthanga also mentions how he managed to give RAW sleuths the slip once in Delhi.
“Since it was a history book, I left out many incidents. My autobiography, which will be written in first person, will be much more interesting,” he said.