The Mizoram government is likely to sign a peace agreement with the Hmar People’s Convention-Democratic (HPC-D), a Manipur-based terror outfit whose cadres are expected to surrender, an official said here on Friday.
The two-day peace talks between the government officials and the leaders of HPC-D, held at the state guest house here, ended on Friday.
“In the meeting, both the government officials and HPC-D leaders have expressed optimism that an agreement between the two sides would be signed soon,” said Mizoram’s Additional Home Secretary Lalbiakzama, who headed the government delegation.
He said: “The peace talks were held under cordial atmosphere and mutual trust. Both sides widely deliberated on the proposed legislation on the autonomy, power and functions of Sinlung Hills Development Council (SHDC).”
The SHDC was constituted in 1994 following the agreement with the united HPC to suit the interests of the Hmar tribals, living in Mizoram, Manipur and southern Assam.
Lalbiakzama said that the final round of talks, as has been proposed, would be at the political level.
The six-member HPC-D delegation was led by working chairman of the outfit Lalthanglien alias L.T. Hmar.
The Manipur-based militant outfit of the Hmar tribals has been triggering intermittent violent activities in Mizoram demanding a separate autonomous district council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution by carving out areas adjoining southern Manipur, northern Mizoram and southern Assam.
The Mizoram government had on a number of occasions rejected the demand.
Mizoram, with a population of 1.1 million currently has three autonomous district councils in southern region of the state, for three different minority tribes. Over 95 per cent of existing Mizoram population is of diverse tribal origins.
The Lai Autonomous District Council and the Chakma Autonomous District Council are in Lawngtlai District and the Maraland Autonomous District Council is in Saiha.
All the three autonomous bodies were constituted for the all round socio-economic development of these minority tribes.
The negotiations between the Mizoram government and the HPC-D reached an impasse in 2013 on the issue of extension of the period of suspension of operations.
After the talks broke down over suspension of operations against the terror group, a host of leaders of the outfit were arrested.
On March 28, 2015, HPC-D guerillas ambushed a legislator’s convoy near Zokhawthlang village in north Mizoram, leaving three policemen dead and six others seriously wounded.
Mizoram is the first and only state in India which received Rs 182.45 crore from the central government in 2000-01 as “Peace Bonus” for keeping peace after decades of insurgency.
As Mizo National Front’s founder leader Laldenga, a former Indian Army official, became Chief Minister in 1986 after his group took to mainstream politics, peace and law and order returned to the Christian-majority Mizoram.