Mizoram Police on Sunday arrested a 45-year-old man alleged to have links with a Manipur-based militant group in connection with the recent bomb blasts that have rocked Aizawl city, Home Minister R Lalzirliana said.
“Acting on information gleaned from our sources, a police team led by a DSP and two inspectors started for [the Assam Mizoram border town of] Vairengte around 11 pm last night. They succeeded in capturing and placing under arrest Lalringthanga, 45, in connection with at least a couple of the six bomb blasts in Aizawl this year. He has confessed to being the one who planted the bombs,” R Lalzirliana said.
Police had on Saturday evening arrested two men – H D Lalhmangaiha and his nephew H D Lalrinpuia – for their alleged roles in a bomb blast near Parliamentary Secretary (Home) Lt.Gen (retd) Z S Zuala’s residence on Friday morning, an explosion that damaged at least four buildings although no one was killed or injured.
Ten days earlier, another blast had damaged a police vehicle and several buildings near the under-construction house owned by Hmingchungnunga, chairman of the Sinlung Hills Development Council or SHDC, a government body tasked with overseeing works in the Hmar tribe dominated areas of northern Mizoram, which some Hmar bodies want to be declared an autonomous tribal district.
“Lalringthanga (the man arrested Sunday) is a resident of Mualkhuang village in Dipucherra within Assam’s Cachar district. He has told interrogators that he was acting on orders from H D Lalhmangaiha. Lalringthanga used to work as a construction worker at Hmingchungnunga’s house and also frequented Lt.Col (retd) Z S Zuala’s residence disguised as a beggar,” the Home Minister said.
Rodingliana Chawngthu, SP of the state’s CID (Special Branch) said Lalringthanga used 15 gelatine sticks weighing about two kgs in the explosion near the Parliamentary Secretary’s residence Friday, a discovery IGP Zorammawia said is a sure sign that the perpetrators aimed not only to terrorise people but also to inflict human casualties.
The Home Minister said the investigations into the bomb blasts, particularly the most recent two, zeroed in on the Manipur-based militant group Hmar People’s Convention – Democrats or HPCD ( a splinter group of the former militant group HPC) and its sympathizers after the group announced in a press release distributed to Manipur based news agencies that they were behind the July 22 blast outside Hmingchungnunga’s residence.
H D Lalhmangaiha is an assistant secretary in the Mizoram Hmar Welfare Committee (MHWC), an over-ground group that sometimes acts as negotiators on the HPC-D’s behalf. The HPC-D and its sympathizers such as the MHWC demand a separate tribal autonomous district for the Hmar tribe spread over northern Mizoram, southern Manipur and parts of Assam.
Although the group used to have a ceasefire agreement with the Mizoram government, talks fell through in mid-2013, and Mizoram Police accuse the group of continuing to carry out extortions in northern villages and towns and suspect they may have been involved in some of the six bomb blasts that have rocked Aizawl this year. Mizoram Police have carried out two raids on HPC-D hideouts in Manipur’s Churachandpur area this year in connection with investigations into the blasts.
MHWC member and student leader Lalmuanpuia Punte, who has in the past been a spokesperson and negotiator for the HPC-D, said H D Lalhmangaiha has however been inactive in the organisation since the beginning of this year for half a year due to ill health and claimed he is a middle-aged diabetic who mostly stays at home.
In the press release claiming responsibility for one of the blasts, the HPCD had said “the Hmar people entrusted… Hmingchungnung to secure the 1994 Peace Accord between the Government of Mizoram and the Hmar People’s Convention [which] resulted in the creation of the SHDC, which was mutually agreed to come under an interim period for two years, after which it was also agreed to be upgraded to an Autonomous District Council (ADC) under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
“However, even after twenty years of the Peace Accord, the Government of Mizoram exercise no political will to fulfill the agreed terms and Hmingchunghnung has become a political toy for the Government of Mizoram in his capacity as the serving chairman of the SHDC,” the militant group said.
Asked about this allegation of non-fulfilment of the peace accord’s terms, Home Minister R Lalzirliana said, “The agreement was indeed on holding elections after two years. Although the state government has taken steps to firm up the electoral rolls in the region, the atmosphere has not been conducive. The HPCD’s demand area also includes many villages populated by members of the Ralte tribe, and it is imperative that their concerns are also addressed.”
IGP Zorammawia added splinter militant groups have emerged in the region in quick succession and has thus made the atmosphere non-conducive for any such action to fulfil the accord’s terms.