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Militants kidnap 3 Mizo candidates

The 3 were abducted from Suangpuilawn on Wednesday. Mizoram goes to polls on Thursday.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2003 08:51 IST

In a jolt to the election process in Mizoram, militants abducted at least three candidates on Wednesday. The state goes to the fifth assembly polls on Thursday.

According to the police, the three candidates were picked up at gunpoint from Suangpuilawn constituency by suspected Hmar militants in Aizawl.

The police said the abducted candidates were H. Lalpanpuia of the Mizoram People's Conference, Ngurdingliana of the Congress and Vaninmawla of the Mizoram National Front.

Earlier, on Tuesday night, there were three bomb explosions in different parts of the state. With the voting rights of Reangs a major issue in the polls, at least two of these blasts — at Tuipuibari and Dampa Rengpui — were directed at the community. There was no casualty.

The state capital also witnessed a bomb blast close to Tuesday midnight. It was a re-run of a blast some time back when the Save Mizoram Committee (SMC) led an eviction drive against Mizos of Myanmarese origin. The SMC followed it up with a campaign to prevent people of the Reang community (also known as Brus) from casting their votes.

Mizoram, in fact, appears to be focussing on the Reang issue more than discussing which party would come to power this time after the votes are cast on November 20.

The SMC, Young Mizo Association and Mizo Zirlai Pawl (students' body) are sore at the Election Commission (EC) for setting up two 'special' polling booths near the Mizoram-Tripura border for Reangs.

Around 37,000 Reangs are housed in six camps in the Kanchanpur sub-division of northern Tripura. They had fled ethnic cleansing by certain Mizo organisations in 1997.

The state government has taken precautionary measures to prevent miscreants from disrupting polling at the two booths, one each at Kanhmun and Tuipuibari villages.

Following EC orders, the Tripura government will provide vehicles for 4,266 Reangs.

Mizo polls: A lowdown

Main issues

Need to maintain Mizo identity; corruption; lack of development; and failure to rehabilitate surrendered militants

Possible kingmaker

Ex-IPS officer Lalduhawma is the man to watch out for. His Zoram National Party, in alliance with Mizoram People’s Conference, has seen a meteoric rise

The Church

The all-powerful church has warned people against voting for candidates tainted by sexual misconduct, alcoholism or drug abuse

Battle royale

Champhai seat is set for a clash of Titans. State Congress president and former CM Lalthanhawla and his successor and Mizo National Front chief Zoramthanga face each other here

First Published: Nov 20, 2003 08:51 IST