Mizoram inks pact with terror outfit to end decades of violence

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Aizawl, April 3 (IANS) The Mizoram government has signed a peace agreement with the Hmar People’s Convention-Democratic (HPC-D), a Manipur-based terror outfit, to end the three-decade-old violence and political impasse in the northeastern state, an official said here on Tuesday.

After eight years of parleys, the Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) was signed on Monday evening by Chief Secretary Arvind Ray on behalf of the state government and HPC-D President H. Zosangbera, representing the terror outfit.

“According to the MoS, more administrative autonomy would be given to the existing Sinlung Hills Development Council (SHDC) and the name of the council would be rechristened as Sinlung Hills Council by enacting an act,” Additional Secretary of state Home Department Lalbiakzama told the media.

Lalbiakzama had headed the state government team in the official level talks with the HC-D since 2010.

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The SHDC was constituted in 1994 for the socio-economic, political and cultural development of the tribal people under the jurisdiction of the council areas.

The official said according to the peace agreement, the state government would declare amnesty for all HPC-D cadres against whom criminal cases are pending.

“According to the MoS, the state government would take steps to provide relief, ex-gratia and rehabilitation of around 100 HPC-D cadres after they surrender to the state government,” Lalbiakzama said.

He said that the HPC-D cadres were likely to lay down 48 sophisticated arms during the “home coming ceremony”, which is likely on April 12.

Expressing happiness, HPC-D spokesperson Lalthalien said the signing of the peace accord was a historic milestone not only for the Hmar tribe but also for the Mizos at large.

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The Hmar tribal people have been living in Mizoram, Manipur and southern Assam.

The Manipur-based militant outfit of the Hmar tribe had been indulging in intermittent violent activities in Mizoram since 1989 demanding a separate autonomous district council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution by carving out areas adjoining southern Manipur, northern Mizoram and southern Assam.

The Mizoram government had on a number of occasions rejected the demand.

Mizoram is the first and only state in India which received Rs 182.45 crore from the central government in 2000-01 as “Peace Bonus” for keeping peace after decades of insurgency.

As the Mizo National Front’s founder-leader Laldenga, a former Indian Army official, became Chief Minister in 1986 after his group took to mainstream politics, peace and law and order returned to the Christian-majority Mizoram.

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