Sinlung /
17 September 2013

Tribes Want Division Of Mizoram

By Nishit Dholabhai

New Delhi, Sep 17 : Amid growing demands for new states in the aftermath of the Telangana decision, a little known outfit, Maraland Democratic Front (MDF), has now demanded the division of Mizoram.

MDF, a political outfit formed in the 1970s, wants the Mara Autonomous District Council under the Sixth Schedule to be declared a Union Territory.

The district council in south Mizoram lies at the tri-junction of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Less than 1,500 square km in area but in an ethnically and strategically important location, a demand from there has been noticed by North Block.

There are apprehensions in a section of the government about the MDF’s language and its fallout in neighbouring councils.

The Lai council, sources said from Aizawl, is thinking on similar lines. “We are on the verge of demanding Union Territory status,” said an official of the Lai council.

Comprising primarily of Maras and some Chakmas, the MDF recently approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde. In a memorandum to Singh, the MDF alluded to its refusal to support the Mizo insurgency while the Mara area was cut off from the Centre for two decades.

The group has said after remaining 61 years in the district council, “upgrade of our political status to Union Territory is our political right”. Preservation of identity is the rationale for the demand.

With recent arms seizures, believed to be delivered to the Maoists, in Mizoram, this developing northeastern state is again on the Centre’s radar.

The MDF has argued that the Sixth Schedule “is unable to safeguard and promote” the Mara tribe in Mizoram because of interference by the state government. “Practically, the autonomous district councils in Mizoram are functioning as one of the state departments,” the memorandum said. There is disaffection among the other councils, who have for some time being demanding direct funding.

“Maraland” was a concept born around the time Mizoram was declared a Union Territory in 1972 but it remained dormant. Even now the MDF is not “coercing the government” but North Block is not ignoring dissatisfaction brewing in the region. In Assam too, the Karbi and Dimasa groups as well as the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC)have demanded direct funding circumventing Dispur.


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