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Mizoram grappled with Bru, Chakma issues in 2017

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AIZAWL, Dec 24 - Xenophobic sentiments against the minority Chakma community by Mizos threatened peace and harmony in 2017 in Mizoram, which also did not see much forward movement on the Bru refugee issue.

Trouble began when four Chakma students were selected to study in medical colleges under the quota of native Mizos with the student bodies holding rallies which turned violent on July 20 in capital Aizawl.

The State Government agreed to withdraw the names of the Chakma students from the lists, pacifying the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), the State�s apex student body, which then cancelled its indefinite bandh call.

The Bru refugee issue, however, continued to haunt the State Government. Its decision to undertake the physical repatriation of over 32,000 Brus lodged in six relief camps in North Tripura district from the second week of February could not take off due to legal reasons.

Officials who conducted the identification in the Tripura camps last year identified 32,857 people from 5,413 families as bona fide residents of Mizoram and for physical repatriation.

However, the Supreme Court instructed the Mizoram Government not to go ahead with the proposed repatriation process.

The Brus are lodged in the camps since 1997 following exodus from Mizoram due to communal tension triggered by the murder of a Forest official by Bru militants.

The State Government made a fresh proposal for commencement of physical repatriation from the first week of March next year but the actual implementation of the process would depend on availability of funds from the Centre.

Resumption of peace talks between Manipur-based Hmar People�s Convention (Democratic) faction led by H Zosangbera on April 28 was a positive step towards a solution to the vexed Hmar political imbroglio.

When the next round of parleys resumed on September 21 and 22 in Aizawl, both the parties could finalise the framework agreement which was sent to the government for final approval.

The next round of talks would be a political level one with both the sides reaching an agreement to sign the memorandum of settlement which was expected to give more political and financial autonomy to Sinlung Hills Development Council (SHDC), proposed to be rechristened as Sinlung Hills Council (SHC).

With elections to the 40-member Assembly due by the end of next year, political alliances were forged while new political parties emerged during the year.

With strict directions from Centre, vigil was maintained along Mizoram�s international border to ensure that no Rohingya Muslims enter the State.

Several Myanmarese nationals, mainly Zakhai and Khumi communities, entered into southernmost Mizoram�s Lawngtlai district due to the Myanmarese army launching a massive crackdown on the Arakan Army militants near the Mizoram border.

The Lawngtlai district administration provided relief camps, health facilities and food to the displaced people while the local people and NGOs of the district also rendered assistance.

President Ram Nath Kovind�s maiden two-day visit to Mizoram after assuming office was another important event of 2017. He addressed the State legislature on November 30 and became only the second Indian president to do so after APJ Abdul Kalam.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also visited the State on December 16 when he inaugurated the 60-MW Tuirial Hydro Electric Project. � PTI

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Mizoram grappled with Bru, Chakma issues in 2017

AIZAWL, Dec 24 - Xenophobic sentiments against the minority Chakma community by Mizos threatened peace and harmony in 2017 in Mizoram, which also did not see much forward movement on the Bru refugee issue.

Trouble began when four Chakma students were selected to study in medical colleges under the quota of native Mizos with the student bodies holding rallies which turned violent on July 20 in capital Aizawl.

The State Government agreed to withdraw the names of the Chakma students from the lists, pacifying the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), the State�s apex student body, which then cancelled its indefinite bandh call.

The Bru refugee issue, however, continued to haunt the State Government. Its decision to undertake the physical repatriation of over 32,000 Brus lodged in six relief camps in North Tripura district from the second week of February could not take off due to legal reasons.

Officials who conducted the identification in the Tripura camps last year identified 32,857 people from 5,413 families as bona fide residents of Mizoram and for physical repatriation.

However, the Supreme Court instructed the Mizoram Government not to go ahead with the proposed repatriation process.

The Brus are lodged in the camps since 1997 following exodus from Mizoram due to communal tension triggered by the murder of a Forest official by Bru militants.

The State Government made a fresh proposal for commencement of physical repatriation from the first week of March next year but the actual implementation of the process would depend on availability of funds from the Centre.

Resumption of peace talks between Manipur-based Hmar People�s Convention (Democratic) faction led by H Zosangbera on April 28 was a positive step towards a solution to the vexed Hmar political imbroglio.

When the next round of parleys resumed on September 21 and 22 in Aizawl, both the parties could finalise the framework agreement which was sent to the government for final approval.

The next round of talks would be a political level one with both the sides reaching an agreement to sign the memorandum of settlement which was expected to give more political and financial autonomy to Sinlung Hills Development Council (SHDC), proposed to be rechristened as Sinlung Hills Council (SHC).

With elections to the 40-member Assembly due by the end of next year, political alliances were forged while new political parties emerged during the year.

With strict directions from Centre, vigil was maintained along Mizoram�s international border to ensure that no Rohingya Muslims enter the State.

Several Myanmarese nationals, mainly Zakhai and Khumi communities, entered into southernmost Mizoram�s Lawngtlai district due to the Myanmarese army launching a massive crackdown on the Arakan Army militants near the Mizoram border.

The Lawngtlai district administration provided relief camps, health facilities and food to the displaced people while the local people and NGOs of the district also rendered assistance.

President Ram Nath Kovind�s maiden two-day visit to Mizoram after assuming office was another important event of 2017. He addressed the State legislature on November 30 and became only the second Indian president to do so after APJ Abdul Kalam.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also visited the State on December 16 when he inaugurated the 60-MW Tuirial Hydro Electric Project. � PTI