Mizoram ethnic violence: paramilitary forces deployed

Aizawl/Agartala, Nov 16 (Inditop.com) Paramilitary forces were deployed as tension prevailed in southern Mizoram and northern Tripura Monday after over 300 houses of Reang tribals were set ablaze following the gunning down of a Mizo youth last week, officials here said.

“Central paramilitary Assam Rifles troopers, and Tripura and Mizoram armed police have been deployed in the trouble-torn southern Mizoram and northern Tripura to prevent any fresh hostility between Mizos and Reang tribals,” an official said.

Violent mobs have set fire to more than 300 houses of Reang tribals in 15 villages under Mamit and Kolashib districts in southern Mizoram since Saturday, displacing over 5,000 people.

The displaced tribals have taken shelter in adjacent southern Assam and Jampui in northern Tripura.

“The ethnic violence erupted after the militants shot dead an 18-year-old Mizo youth at Bungthuam village, near the Tripura border, in southern Mizoram on Friday,” said Mizoram Home Minister R. Lalzirliana

The youth was shot dead when he and his friends were collecting pig fodder in a forest area. The two gunmen fled the spot soon after the incident.

“It is a little difficult to prevent arson everywhere as the Reang tribal settlements are scattered in inaccessible areas and the miscreants went in groups on jungle roads to torch the villages,” Lalzirliana told reporters in Aizawl late Sunday.

Warning the troublemakers, Lalzirliana said those who disrupt peace would be firmly dealt with and brought to book.

Senior civil and police officials have been camping in the mixed populated Tripura villages adjacent to Mizoram since Saturday.

“Both Assam Rifles and Tripura police in northern Tripura are on alert to prevent any eventuality following the ethnic violence and exodus of Reang tribals from Mizoram,” north Tripura district magistrate Samarjit Bhowmik told Inditop.

Mizoram police chief Lalrokhuma Pachuau has been maintaining close contact with his Tripura counterpart Pranay Sahay to tackle the situation jointly.

“Security has been tightened in the Mizo dominated areas in Jampui in north Tripura,” Bhomik added.

Over 35,000 Reang (locally called Bru) tribal refugees have been living in six north Tripura camps since 1997 after they fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos.

The tripartite meeting held in Aizawl Nov 4 between representatives of the central and Mizoram governments and tribal refugees failed to resolve the 12-year deadlock to repatriate 35,000 Reang migrants from Tripura to Mizoram.

“Both the centre and the Mizoram government rejected our major demands. We will not return to our homes unless our vital demands are fulfilled,” said Elvis Chorkhy, who led the seven-member refugee delegation at the meeting.

“We will boycott the repatriation process as both the Mizoram government and the centre are not sincere about conceding our long pending demands.”

A delegation of Mizoram officials was to visit the refugee camps Monday, but they did not turn up in view of the fresh ethnic trouble.

Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), a body of the Reang tribal refugees, has sent fax messages to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Mizoram Chief Minister Lalthanhawla urging them to stop the ethnic violence in Mizoram.

“The tribal refugees Sunday and Monday organised protest rallies in their six camps in north Tripura to protest the mob attacks and burning down of houses belonging to Reang tribals in Mizoram,” said Chorkhy, who is the president of MBDPF.