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A search of Justice for the land and people of Mizoram

- K Remruatfela

It is such a strange thing that some people look intelligent and educated, but not having the knowledge of Mizoram and the people living there who are called ‘Mizo’. They used to claim us as Foreigners, and if we say we are also Indians they felt it hard to believe. They will not accept us as Indians just as we also failed to claim ourselves as Indians. The reason and question behind this kind of perception are rather very tricky. Certainly, there must be an answer to all, there must be a root cause. Then what would it be?


*Political background of Mizoram:*

It is believed that the people of Mizo inhabited the land of these Lushai hills around the 1700s AD. Before the intervention of the British in India, there was no such particular land to be called Mizoram officially. All the Mizo clans were scattered in different areas and having their own Chiefs. But after the intervention, the British occupied our land and put us under their control subjugating the land and the community. According to the provisions of the Scheduled District Act (XIV of 1874) 1874, Lushai Hills were formally declared as part of the British-India by a proclamation on 6th September 1895. North and south hills were united into Lushai Hills district in 1898 with Aizawl as its Headquarters. In the year of 1921, the Lushai Hills District was classified as ‘Backward Tract’ as per the provision of Section 52A of the Govt. of India Act. 1919. The Government of India Act. 1935 declared the Lushai Hills along with Hill District of Assam as ‘Excluded Area’ from the provincial autonomy of Assam. When India got Independence, it was annexed under the Union of India and put under the province of Assam State with having a District Council as per the provisions mentioned in Art. 242 (2) which is particularly enshrined in the VI Schedule of the Constitution.

After 20 years of having a District Council, it was elevated as a ‘Union Territory’ in 1972. During 1966 – 1986, a great insurgency broke out demanding full independence. After we struggled for more than 20 years, our freedom fighters put their guns down and surrendered to the Indian Government. The treaty of agreement, the “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed between the MNF party (Mizo National Front) and the Indian Government on Dt. 30. 06. 1986 at 1:00 P.M. The document was signed by Mr Laldenga on behalf of the Mizo National Front, and the Union Home Secretary R.D. Pradhan on behalf of the Indian government. Lakhani, Chief Secretary of Mizoram, also signed the agreement. After the agreement was signed, Mizoram was formally declared as the 23rd State of India by Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India on 20th February 1987. After the proclamation of statehood, the new article of 371 (G) was added in the Indian constitution which deals with the administration of the newly established Mizoram State. 

At the same time, it is needless to say that though having a Statehood, there still exist 3 District Council within the State of Mizoram, viz. Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC), Lai Autonomous District Council (LADC) and Mara Autonomous District Council (MADC).

*Why the insurgency broke out?*

In 1959, Mizo Hills was devastated by a great famine known in Mizo history as 'Mautam Famine'. The cause of the famine was attributed to a flowering of bamboos which resulted in the consequent increase in the rat population in large numbers. After eating up bamboo seeds, the rats turned toward crops and infested the huts and houses and caused plagues in the villages. The havoc created by the rats were terrible and only very little of the grains were harvested. For sustenance, many Mizo had to collect roots and leaves from the jungles. Others moved out to faraway places for their survival, while a considerable number died of starvation and poverty.

Unfortunately, in this hour of darkness, the Assam government completely ignored the sufferings of the Mizo people. The Mizo Union District Council used to report the situation and conditions of the Mizo people to the Assam Government and demand special financial and economic aids. Instead of listening to their pleas, the Assam Government showed an unwelcome attitude to our Mizo Leaders. The people became very much dissatisfied and infuriated with the treatment that they got from the Assam Government. So, there came a sort of association like Mizo National Famine Front. No timely treatment was given to it. Because of that, the Famine Front turned into the MNF, a rebel organization, demanding full independence from India.

*The root cause of insurgency:*

There may be different kinds of factors bringing about the insurgency in Mizoram. There must be a root cause. Since we are a part of India, we have been trying to learn to become Indians. We have failed. There must be a reason. The main cause of this is the feeling of being insecure in the minds of the people of this land. Almost all the Mizo have a sense and feeling of insecurity and isolation. 

We accept that we, the Mizo have different cultures, religions and different physical features. The existing Hindu culture is different from our culture; our taste, likes and dislikes, everything is different. This might be the reason, why we faced so much suspicion and doubt as perfect Citizens of India. This is why our former Chief Minister also roared out that ‘We are the victim of Racism’ in International Conference. We face so many discriminations and torture everywhere we go and in everything we do. 

This does not mean that we have an inferiority complex in our minds. We are very proud of our Culture and happy enough to be Mizo. Frankly speaking, we felt hard to mingle with other people. The reason might be implied that we are Christians; we follow Western cultures and feel easier to digest Western culture than Indian Culture. We hardly have a sense of Indian Nationalism at large. Why? There must be a root cause and a remedy.

*What Is the remedy?*

When our freedom fighters put their Guns down and surrendered to the Indian Government, Peace Accord was signed in 1986. We, the people, we're very happy expecting some reality from the Peace Accord. The Government of India was also very happy. But the unfortunate thing is that the fulfilment of the provisions of the Peace Accord, till now, is not coming true. People are expecting something real from the Government of India.

Of course, Mizoram stands the second highest in terms of literacy in India next to Kerala. It has got about 86 per cent literacy rate. But many educated people are jobless there. It is a hilly region. Agriculture could not be done and practice very properly. They remain jobless. They remain doing nothing. So, they attempted to do something. Even it is not good, it will be a bad one. The increase in the unemployment rate is not due to scarcity and dearth of educated people. We have plenty of highly educated and qualified people. There are lots of Mizo who gave a good name and reputations in foreign countries. Till then, why are there so many educated but jobless people in Mizoram? There must be a reason and root cause. At the same time, there must be a remedy.

Now, the remedy lies in the heart-winning policy, in the confidence-making policy of the Government of India. Let us give employment, let us give something to do to the youth now. This is the solution. We expect some reality from the government. We want justice, we want to withhold our rights and dignity. We don`t like discrimination. We want to function our Constitution as it is the way it should be. We demand full justice. I`m sure that if Justice prevails to all, the people of Mizo will feel at ease to be an Indian.


*Conclusion:*

I openly publicize the feelings of Mizo toward our fellow Indians and the Indian Government. That does not mean that we feel like rebelling and taking arms. But if the situation remains like this, I am afraid, a day may come when the youth who have not experienced the effect of the insurrection will repeat the same old things. So, something is to be done now.

Mizoram is a land of peace and beauty. We are rich in flora and fauna as well in spirit and mind. Every person has a common feeling and fraternity. Almost all people have equal status. There is no class distinction as well as caste conflict. This kind of inequality does not exist in Mizoram at all.

In short, we are happy enough just to be a Mizo. But, we have one demand from the Government. It is Justice to our people as well as for our land. Let us show a good India to the people and land of Mizoram. Then only we can win their hearts and peace will come in reality through the development of all.
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