A bill to declare Mizoram’s northern regions bordering Manipur a “disturbed area” will be introduced in the next Assembly session likely to be held in July, but the government will not invoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) there, Mizoram Home Minister R Lalzirliana has said.
Lalzirliana hinted the government will move to declare Manipur-based militant group Hmar People’s Convention Democratic (HPCD) an “unlawful” organisation since parties of all hues have supported the move. The HPCD demands a tribal autonomous district for the Hmar tribe in the northern regions.
The Mizoram government accuses the group’s cadres, particularly of Zosangbera faction, of extorting money from locals, and more recently, for ambushing a convoy of MLAs and killing three policemen and injuring six others, two of them civilians.
The HPCD has also recently issued a press statement claiming responsibility for the attacks. The state’s home department has pushed for declaring the outfit an “unlawful” organisation and also for declaring the region they operate in as a “disturbed area”. But what Lalzirliana said Friday indicates the Congress, which occupies 34 out of 40 seats in the state legislature, is keen to push forward with the latter as well.
Opposition parties, as well as some NGOs, have voiced their hostility against the proposal for a “disturbed area” saying Mizoram’s residents suffered atrocities committed by the armed forces for two decades during the MNF insurgency. He said the “disturbed area” tag does not necessarily mean the Army or central paramilitary would have to be deployed in the region. “There will be no free hand given to police as under the AFSPA,” Lalzirliana said.