Aizawl, Nov 28 : The Mizoram government has resumed peace negotiations with the Manipur-based Hmar militant outfit Hmar People’s Convention – Democrats (HPC-D) after the peace parleys run into rough weather for two years.
Sources said on Tuesday that the Mizoram delegates were on their way back from Manipur’s Churachandpur where they held talks with the HPCD leadership on Monday.
While all-party leaders of the Sinlung Hills Development Council and a few officials represented Mizoram, the HPCD team was led by its chairman Thangliana, who was recently alleviated from information secretary after the arrest of the outfit’s chairman H Zosangbera.
“The peace talks were held under cordial and peaceful atmosphere of mutual trust. We are optimistic that the talks would bear fruits,” one of the all-party leaders said, adding that he would not disclose any further as they were yet to give the report to state government.
Due to flight cancellations from Imphal to Aizawl for the whole of this week, the delegates were coming back by road. Resumption of the peace talks came after Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla and his home minister R Lalzirliana said the state government would not sit for talks, despite the Centre’s instructions to do so, because the HPC-D was “violating the suspension of operations (SoO) agreement”.
“The HPC-D cadres had not only not remained in the designated camps but had also never deposited their arms and continued to indulge in violent and illegal activities, including extortion from across the Manipur border,” Lalzirliana had said.
Also, it was difficult for Mizoram to decide with which faction of the outfit it would engage in the parleys after the HPC-D split into two factions, according to the home minister. Lal Thanhawla had also said it was not Mizoram government, but the Centre which was supposed to hold talks with the HPC-D. The HPC-D and the Congress government began negotiations on November 11, 2010.
The bilateral suspension of operations (SoO) was also signed between the two parties on the same day with an agreement to continue the parley for the next six months. The peace talks, however, were abandoned when the state government sent a letter to the HPC-D leadership on December 22, 2010, saying that it would not accept “foreigners” as members of the HPCD delegation for the peace parley and the next date scheduled for the talks, January 14, 2011 was deferred.
The HPC-D denied that their delegation team included a foreigner and the war of words continued between the two sides with both the parties drifting further away from the negotiating table. The mistrust worsened when the HPC-D in February this year deterred village council elections in 15 villages under the Sinlung hills development council, comprising Hmar-inhabited areas in northeastern Mizoram which is being demanded by the HPC-D for Hmar autonomy.
The term of the village councils, which has been extended for two times, is expiring on November 29. State Election Commission’s attempts to conduct rural polls in the 15 villages have so far failed due the HPC-D’s diktat not to file nominations.
The HPC-D suffered a blow when the Mizoram police arrested the outfit’s chairman H Zosangbera from Delhi airport on July 17. Earlier on June 10, HPCD “army chief” Lalropuia and “deputy army chief” Lalbiaknunga, were arrested from Silchar airport.
Lalropuia has been granted bail on health ground and is undergoing treatment in Guwahati. An offshoot of the Hmar People’s Convention (HPC), HPC (D) was formed in 1995, unsatisfied with the agreement the HPC leaders signed with Mizoram government in July 1994.
The HPC had started the movement for self-governance for Hmar in the north and the northeastern parts of Mizoram after the 1986 Mizo accord failed to achieve the “Greater Mizoram” demand incorporating the Hmar people settled in Manipur and Assam bordering Mizoram.