Alert in Mizoram over security threat

Aizawl, May 14 (IANS)

Security forces in Mizoram have stepped up vigil after an intelligence report indicated possible violence by the separatist outfit Hmar People’s Convention-Democrats (HPC-D) in the northeastern state, police said here Monday.

Deputy Inspector General of Police (northern range) Zorammawia told reporters: ‘Security forces led by superintendents of police have been conducting flag marches in various parts of the mountainous state, bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh.’

‘We have asked all the police stations to remain vigilant over the prevailing situation, so that the tribal guerrillas do not create any violence or any kind of disturbances,’ he said.

Official sources said they had received inputs that HPC-D cadres could indulge in violence.

The HPC-D is a militant outfit operating mainly in Mizoram and neighbouring Manipur. It has been demanding a separate Hmar Autonomous District Council comprising Hmar tribal-inhabited areas in the north and north-eastern parts of Mizoram.

The Hmar tribals live mostly in the mountains of south Manipur, parts of Mizoram, southern Assam and parts of Meghalaya and Tripura, besides the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of southeast Bangladesh. In 1987, the Hmars launched an insurgent movement, and signed a ceasefire with the government in 1992. Around 375 cadres of the outfit surrendered that year in Aizawl.

The HPC-D was an offshoot of the Hmar People’s Convention, following discontents with the 1992 peace agreement.

Mizoram Home Minister R. Lalzirliana said the purpose of the flag marches was to create confidence and maintain peaceful atmosphere and mutual trust among the people of the hilly and remote areas.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla recently informed the state assembly that peace negotiations with the HPC-D had run into a deadlock as the Manipur-based rebel group insisted on including a US citizen in its delegation in the talks with the state government – a proposal ‘unacceptable’ to the Mizoram government.

‘We had informed the state government’s stand on this to the central government,’ the chief minister said.

State Home Secretary Lalmalsawma told reporters: ‘The HPC-D can include any Indian of their choice as one of the members in their delegation, but not any foreigners.’

Lal Thanhawla also accused the HPC-D of violating a suspension of operation (SOO) agreement it had signed with the central government in 2007.

‘According to the agreement, the HPC-D was supposed to stop all kinds of violent activities. Instead, the underground group continued extortion rackets and abduction in northeastern parts of Mizoram,’ the Chief Minister added.