AIZAWL, Feb 25 - The decades-old election manifesto of the Mizo National Front (MNF) may finally be fulfilled as the Ministry of Home Affairs has directed the Assam Rifles to shift the battalion headquarters from the heart of the capital Aizawl city to Zokhawsang area near Aizawl by May 31.
MNF Minister Lalruatkima said here today that the MHA�s directive was an outcome of Chief Minister Zoramthanga�s meeting with the concerned Union Minister and MHA top officials on the issue.
The MHA office memorandum, signed by secretary Mukesh, also directed the Assam Rifles authorities to submit action taken report to the Ministry.
The relocation of the Assam Rifles from the heart of the city was made one of its electoral promises by the MNF before the 2018 Assembly elections.
It had been one of the top priorities of the Laldenga-led Government in 1987. An agreement to this effect was signed between then Mizoram chief secretary Dengchhuana and Col Gursharan Singh of the Assam Rifles, on May 31, 1988, Deputy CM Tawnluia, who was Land & Revenue Minister in the short-lived Laldenga Ministry said.
An amount of Rs 92,59,156 was also paid to private landowners in Zokhawsang as compensation. The entire exercise was expected to be completed within three years, he said. However, the MNF Government was toppled on September 7, 1988, pushing Mizoram into President�s Rule.
Then, the process of Assam Rifles relocation was totally abandoned by the Congress Government led by Lal Thanhawla, formed in January 1989. Cong continued in power till December 1998.
According to the MNF leader, it was not until MNF party came back to power in 1998 that the process of Assam Rifles shifting was resumed with renewed efforts.
Thanks to the constant pressure of the MNF Government, CM Zoramthanga in particular, a clearance on the much-awaited relocation of Assam Rifles was received, Tawnluia said.
To make sure that the vacated land of the Assam Rifles was used for public purpose only, the MNF Government passed the Mizoram (Restriction on use of Transferred Land) Act, 2002, in the State Assembly.
Finally, a 99-year-land lease certificate for 524 hectares of land in Zokhawsanga was handed over to the director general of the Assam Rifles, Shillong, in 2006, Tawnluia recollected. On March 12, 2008, the Ministry of Home Affairs sanctioned Rs 145.17 crore for construction of barracks and offices at Zokhawsang, he stated.