Aizawl, June 13 (IANS): Two top leaders of separatist outfit Hmar People's Convention-Democrats (HPC-D) were arrested by Mizoram Police in southern Assam, officials said here on Wednesday.
"Acting on a tip-off, the Mizoram Police with the help of Assam Police have arrested the self-styled army chief of HPC-D Lalropuia and his deputy Biaknunga near the Kumbigram Airport in Silchar in southern Assam," a Mizoram home department official told reporters.
According to the official, the duo, who were nabbed on Sunday night and brought back to Aizawl on Tuesday, were responsible for a number of criminal, illegal and violent activities in Mizoram.
Mizoram Home Minister R Lalzirliana while addressing the media said: "The HPC-D was one of the extremist groups in Manipur that had signed suspension of operations (SoO) agreement with the security forces in that state under the supervision of the union home ministry. However, its cadres were indulging in a series of violent and illegal activities in Mizoram."
The minister cited many instances of crimes committed by the HPC-D outfit, including hiding of sophisticated arms inside Manipur and Mizoram, intimidation of political party leaders before the recent village council polls, and extortion of money from the people.
"Following the threats and other untoward incidents in the state, the state election commission postponed the village council polls indefinitely in 15 villages in Mizoram recently," the home minister said.
Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla recently informed the state assembly that peace negotiations with the HPC-D had run into a deadlock as the rebel group insisted on including a US citizen in its delegation in the talks with the state government - a proposal "unacceptable" to the Mizoram government.
"We had informed the state government's stand on this to the central government," the chief minister said.
The HPC-D is a militant outfit operating mainly in Mizoram and neighbouring Manipur.
It has been demanding a separate Hmar Autonomous District Council comprising Hmar tribal-inhabited areas in the north and north-eastern parts of Mizoram.
The Hmar tribals live mostly in the mountains of south Manipur, parts of Mizoram, southern Assam and parts of Meghalaya and Tripura, besides the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of southeast Bangladesh. In 1987, the Hmars launched an insurgent movement, and signed a ceasefire with the government in 1992. Around 375 cadres of the outfit surrendered that year in Aizawl.
The HPC-D was an offshoot of the Hmar People's Convention, following a discontent with the 1992 peace agreement.