Mizoram: NE's most peaceful state

Mizoram too has provisions for three autonomous district councils, two of them representing people who are ethnically not different from the majority Lushai.
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Updated on Jan 27, 2005 04:54 PM IST
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PTI | Byhindustantimes.com, New Delhi

Mizoram, after experiencing 20 years of hardship and miseries from insurgency, is now a comparatively peaceful state of northeast. However, that does not mean it is free from any trouble. Mizoram too has provisions for three autonomous district councils, two of them representing people who are ethnically not different from the majority Lushai.

According to one view Reangs entered Mizoram from the Maian hill in Rangamati in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh around 1954. According to official version, In 1961, there were only around 1,000 Reangs in Mizoram. Now, they have a sizeable presence-- over 85,000 Reangs live across the three districts of Aizawl, Chintepui and Lunglei.

Although Mizoram is India's second most literate State after Kerala, the literacy rate among Reangs is less than one per cent. The community has until now had only five graduates in Mizoram.

Noe Reangs form the second largest ethnic group in Mizoram, depend on jhum (shifting) cultivation for livelihood. The main demand of the Reangs community is the creation of Autonomous District Council (ADC) and the payment of compensation to Reang families that were affected by the inter-community strife.
There has been a mass exodus of Reangs to Tripura because of the violent clashes in the Mamith subdivision, a Reang-dominated area in north-west Mizoram.

The government of Mizoram maintains that Reangs are not Hindus but animists. They do not live in any compact area like other citizens of Mizoram. They do not have a Hindu temple or mandir as claimed by them.

The RSS took up their cause, claiming that they are Hindus, but the state maintains they are not.

According to another view, Reangs, one of the Tripuri clans, are considered to be the original inhabitants of Mizoram as the state was part of the Tripura kingdom until 1872. In 1872, the British took control of the state from the Maharaja (king) of Tripura and it became a district of Assam. The community has a large presence in Tripura and the state's strongest insurgent group, the outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), is dominated by Reangs.

On several occasions in the past, Aizawl has accused the NLFT of providing arms and training to BNLF cadres to carry out an armed struggle against the state government. What worries the authorities is the increasing restlessness among Reang youth as the Mizoram government showed no indication that it is prepared to budge. The BNLF has been reportedly luring Reang youth from among the refugees for training in militancy-related activities. The Tripura government, however, has made it clear to the refugees' leaders that it will not allow any subversive activities on its soil.

Further, it has had to cope with a violent separatist agitation from the Hmar People's Council (whose claimed homeland traverses Mizoram, Manipur and Assam).

Voice of dissent:

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, whose Mizo National Front Government has completed 17 years of the Mizo Accord, is faced with voices of dissent from his erstwhile comrades who observed June 30 as a black day for non-fulfillment of their demands.

A majority of disgruntled former rebels, who organised themselves under the banner of Peace Accord Mizo National Front Returnees Association, claimed they have not received the full amount promised to them under the accord.

The accord promised for Rs 60,000 to each of the insurgents after giving up arms. But even after 17 years, they have received only Rs 40,000 each.

The first installment of Rs 20,000 was given within months of the signing of the accord on June 30, 1986, the second and third installments of Rs 10,000 each came in 1988 and 1995.

Majorities of the insurgents are yet to receive the remaining Rs 20,000 and this is despite the state government stating in the assembly that the entire amount had been released to the peace returnees.

Altogether 572 underground rebels surrendered after the accord was signed.

Over 100 of the surrendered insurgents were absorbed in the India Reserve Battalion, around 70 in the Mizoram Armed Police and about 100 in the state government. But around 260 former rebels are still sitting idle.

With Rs 40,000 not enough to start anything substantial, those who did not got government jobs have gone back to the villages to take up farming. Some others have set up petty business.

Chief minister Zoramthanga also admits that the compensation and ex-gratia payments are yet to be completed.

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