As the Mizoram Police continues to slap up to a dozen additional charges against three arrested HPCD militants — including it’s “Army Chief” Lalropuia Famhoite and “Finance Secretary” Norbar Sanate — it has emerged that two men who admitted to planting and exploding at least five bombs that rocked state capital Aizawl on the militant group’s behest last year have been acquitted on a technicality and the state government has not yet appealed against their acquittal.
H D Lalhmangaiha and Lalringthanga were arrested in the first week of August 2014 for their roles in setting off five blasts in various parts of Aizawl that caused damages worth several lakhs but which led to no human casualties. Their arrests prompted Home Minister R Lalzirliana to announce the police action at a hurriedly-called press conference at his residence on a Sunday afternoon.
The duo were, however, acquitted by an Additional District and Sessions Court Judge on March 24 because the prosecution did not include the District Magistrate’s prosecution sanction along with the charge-sheet, which is required for two of the charges they faced; section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act (causing explosion endangering life or property) and IPC 120 B (criminal conspiracy).
District Magistrate Dr Franklin Laltinkhuma meanwhile said he never rejects requests for a sanction to prosecute and he had granted one in this particular case as well, while Public Prosecutor R C Thanga said he has prepared and submitted a note to the state’s IGP and the Aizawl SP furnishing the grounds for an appeal against the acquittals in the High Court, citing two Supreme Court rulings that say prosecution sanctions can be filed later.
He said the state government has not yet filed an appeal, however.
Lalringthanga, who designed and planted the bombs, had told a court soon after his arrest that he acted on behalf of the HPCD, and that he procured 80 sticks of gelatin to engineer the bomb blasts — one exploded near the state Assembly building, another outside Parliamentary Secretary for Home Lt.Col (retd) ZS Zuala and two others near Sinlung Hills Development Council chairman Hmingchungnunga’s residence. A fifth exploded in Aizawl’s main market area late in the night.
This is not the first time HPCD cadres or those alleged to be working for the group have been let off or given bail on technicalities; the group’s top leadership including “chairman” Zosangbera, “army chief” Lalropuia, “deputy army chief” Lalbiaknunga and “finance secretary” Norbar Sanate have at various times in the past been allowed bail on different grounds, chief of which has been the police not wielding CrPC section 41A, which requires that a police officer serve a notice of arrest to the accused.
Interestingly, the HPCD’s top leadership were by and large represented by lawyer J Lalremruata Hmar, who heads the legal cell of the main opposition Mizo National Front, a party that has taken aim at the Congress government for allegedly having links with the Lalhmingthanga faction of the HPCD, a rival of the the HPCD faction led by Zosangbera and Lalropuia.