Mizoram rejects autonomous council demand for Reang tribals

Aizawl/Agartala, Nov 23 (Inditop.com) Mizoram has rejected the demand to set up an Autonomous District Council (ADC) for Reang tribals but said the government was ready to talk with them to solve any of their other problems. It also refused to seek a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the ethnic violence in the state.

“My government is unable to accept the demand for a separate ADC for Reang tribals. We can discuss any other demands of the tribal minorities with the community leaders,” Mizoram Home Minister R. Lalzirliana told reporters in Aizawl late Sunday.

The minority Reang tribals, locally called Bru, and erstwhile separatist outfits have been demanding a separate ADC for the tribals since the early 1990s.

Lalzirliana also rejected a CBI probe into the killing of a Mizo youth Nov 13 and the subsequent ethnic violence in Mizoram.

Responding to accusation by New Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) that the state government was behind the recent ethnic conflict triggered by the murder of a Mizo youth, the minister said: “ACHR representatives are most welcome to come to Mizoram and see the facts and ground realities by themselves.”

“They (ACHR officials) should come and see the relief work and other measures being undertaken by the state government, the churches and the NGOs in the violence hit western Mizoram areas,” the home minister said.

ACHR had last week urged the central government to order a CBI probe into the killing of a Mizo youth and the subsequent ethnic violence in Mizoram.

“Prima facie evidence does exist to establish beyond any reasonable doubt that the Mizoram government and some Mizo NGOs were behind the premeditated attacks to stall the process of repatriation of refugees. The authorities have remained silent. Therefore a CBI inquiry is indispensable,” Suhas Chakma, director of ACHR, had said in a statement.

In Mizoram, the estimated population of Reang tribals is 100,000. Besides, there are Chakmas and other tribals living in the mountainous border state, whose total population is about one million.

Over 35,000 Reang tribal refugees have been sheltered in six camps in north Tripura camps across the state border since 1997 after they fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos.

The tribal refugees’ repatriation from Tripura to Mizoram has turned complicated with violent mobs in western Mizoram burning down around 500 houses of Reang tribals last week following the gunning down of an 18-year-old Mizo youth.

Following the arson and violence, thousands of displaced Reang tribals have taken shelter in adjacent southern Assam and northern Tripura. Most of the displaced people are still living either in the jungle or under the open skies as winter draws in.

The central and Tripura governments have asked Mizoram to resolve the 12-year-old deadlock on the repatriation of Reang refugees to the state, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar told reporters in Agartala after returning from New Delhi Sunday.

In New Delhi, union Home Minister P. Chidambaram met Sarkar Friday and discussed ways to resolve the deadlock on the repatriation of 35,000 Reang refugees to Mizoram and fresh exodus into Tripura following the recent ethnic violence.

An inconclusive tripartite meeting was held in Aizawl Nov 4 between representatives of the central and Mizoram governments and tribal refugees to resolve the deadlock.