Talks with Mizoram rebel outfit hit roadblock

March 28th, 2011 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Aizawl, March 28 (IANS) Peace talks between the Mizoram government and the separatist outfit Hmar People’s Convention-Democrats (HPC-D) have run into rough weather, with the state declining a “foreign negotiator” in the rebel team.

Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla Monday informed the Mizoram assembly that peace negotiations had run into a deadlock as the Manipur-based rebel group insisted on including a US citizen in its delegation in the next round of talks in May - a proposal “unacceptable” to the Mizoram government.

“We would inform the state government’s stand on this to the central government soon,” the chief minister said.

Mizoram Home Secretary Lalmalsawma told reporters: “The HPC-D can include any Indian of their choice as one of the members in their delegation, but not any foreigners.”

Sources in the state home department also stated that the HPC-D delegates seemed to have misunderstood the point agreed upon in the last dialogue that the militant group could appoint other people to participate in the negotiations.

A five-member HPC-D delegation, led by the head of its military wing Ropuia, held the first round of talks in November last year with Lalmalsawma and other officials.

“After the first round of peace negotiations, the Mizoram government had announced suspension of operations against the outfit,” a Mizoram home department official said.

Earlier, Lalmalsawma said the talks would be unconditional.

The Mizoram government has set up a committee of police and civil administration officials, under the chairmanship of the home secretary, to conduct the talks.

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 northeastern parts of the mountainous Mizoram.

The Hmar tribals live mostly in the hills 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, until a ceasefire was signed in 1992. Around 375 cadres of the outfit surrendered that year in Aizawl.

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