Mizoram hopes for lasting peace as lone active rebel outfit signs peace deal
Mizoram’s only active rebel outfit, Hmar People’s Convention-Democratic (HPC-D), signed a peace deal with the state government on Monday, raising hopes of lasting peace in the northeastern state.
The memorandum of settlement (MoS) was signed at the state guest house in Chatlang by Mizoram chief secretary Arvind Ray and HPC-D chairperson H Zosangbera in the presence of government officials and the outfit’s leaders.
The Mizoram government and rebel outfit reached an agreement on the terms of a peace accord last month after nearly one and a half years of peace talks. Monday’s deal puts an official seal on the settlement.
“We are confident that Monday’s agreement would bring peace to Mizoram. The terms of the agreement were discussed in detail and agreed upon by both sides,” state home minister R Lalzirliana said.
The rebel outfit, HPC (D)—an offshoot of the Hmar People’s Convention—had been demanding more autonomy to Sinlung Hills Development Council (SHDC)—constituted in 1994.
The rebel outfit would hand over 48 sophisticated arms at an arm laying and coming home ceremony to be held on April 12 at Central Training Institute, Sesawng, 39km from the state capital Aizawl.
As per the deal, the SHDC would be renamed as Sinlung Hills Council by an act of the state legislature. The council would have administrative autonomy within the terms agreed in the deal.
The council, which would comprise 14 elected and two nominated members, would have powers to deal with the socio-economic, political and cultural development of the people residing within SHC.
Speaking on the occasion, HPC (D)’s spokesperson Lalthalien expressed happiness at the signing of the accord and hoped it would prove to be a milestone, not just the Hmar people but for entire Mizoram as well.
The agreement stipulates that the state government would grant amnesty to HPC-D cadres, who have criminal cases pending against them, and also take steps to provide relief and rehabilitation to the nearly 100 cadres expected to join the mainstream.
Disappointed with contents of the Mizo Peace Accord signed in 1986, which didn’t address the creation of a Greater Mizoram comprising Hmar inhabited areas in Mizoram, Assam and Manipur, the HPC came into existence the same year.
The outfit signed a memorandum of settlement with Mizoram government in 1994 to establish SHDC and laid down arms. But unhappy with implementation of the deal, a section of the outfit took up arms again a year later and formed HPC (D).
Between 1992 and 2018, insurgency-related incidents claimed a total of 49 civilians, security personnel and insurgents in Mizoram. No killings have taken place in the past two years.
As per 2011 census, the Hmar population in Mizoram is 29,587 with most of them concentrated in the north and northeast part of the state. The total population of the state is 10.91 lakh.
There is still some apprehension as a faction of HPC (D) led by founder president Lalhmingthang Sanate is opposed to the creation of SHC as they are demanding an autonomous district council. Sanate was arrested by Assam police in February.
Mizoram government says the faction isn’t strong enough to disrupt peace.
“Mizoram is a small state and can’t afford creation of another district as demanded by Lalhmingthang’s faction. They are a small gang and isn’t that significant,” Lalzirliana said.