A 45-year-old man arrested in connection with multiple blasts in Mizoram capital Aizawl has told a court he planted five of the six bombs that rocked different parts of the city this year on instructions from a Manipur-based militant group.
Lalringthanga is one of three men arrested by police over the weekend in connection with the blasts which, though responsible for damages to buildings and vehicles worth several lakh Rupees, did not injure or kill anyone.
The resident of a small village in Assam’s Cachar district was picked up by investigators of the CID (Special Branch) from his relatives’ house in the Assam-Mizoram border town of Vairengte around 5 am Sunday, less than 24 hours after his alleged accomplice and another man were arrested in Aizawl.
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Lalringthanga has told the Aizawl District Court that he purchased 80 sticks of gelatine from an explosives trafficker in Aizawl’s Bawngkawn neighborhood, and used these in small quantities to trigger the blasts.
These included 15 sticks for the January 31 blast near the State Assembly building, six sticks for the February 20 blast at Aizawl’s main market area and four sticks outside the residence of Sinlung Hills Development Council chairman Hmingchungnunga on March 22.
Lalringthanga said he and the other arrested accused, 54-year-old H D Lalhmangaiha, then traveled to an HPC-D or Hmar People’s Convention – Democrats camp in neighboring Manipur and met militant leader Ropuia.
Lalringthanga was then trained on making better bombs by an expert affiliated to the militant group — it was there that he learned how to use a Myanmar-made cigarette and a match-stick to improvise a delay in the explosions without the use of timers.
The duo were given Rs 5000 each on this trip, and Lalringthanga received payments of several hundred Rupees every time he planted the bombs.
Lalringthanga also confessed he had been instructed the blasts were merely to catch the attention of the state government and human casualties were to be avoided; the second bomb in the market area was in fact planned to explode near a small police post nearby but Lalringthanga changed the location in the last minute to avoid human casualties.
H D Lalhmangaiha, the other accused, has meanwhile denied the militant group HPC-D’s involvement in the blasts and said he himself took part in planning only the last two explosions. He has also been an assistant secretary of the Mizoram Hmar Welfare Committee, a group that openly supports the HPC-D’s demands and which has often acted as a negotiator on the militant group’s behalf.
The HPC-D’s stated aim is to pressure the Mizoram Government to establish an autonomous tribal district for the Hmar tribe that is spread through northern Mizoram and parts of south Manipur and Assam, but the group is also accused of extorting money from both villagers and companies working on projects in northern Mizoram and south Manipur.