Police stations in Hmar inhabited areas in Assam, Mizoram and Manipur have been alerted and vigilance along international border stepped up following the failure of peace talks between the Mizoram government and the Hmar People's Convention (Democratic) on August 14.
The 6-month-long suspension of operation declared by the Mizoram government expired on July 31 and technically the HPC(D) militants are free to return to their guerilla life. The failure of the talks had semaphored a disturbing message to the extremist organisations in some North East states which are engaged in peace process. Under the provisions of the ceasefire and suspension of operations these outfits had come over ground along with weapons.
Sources said that one of the major demands of the HPC(D) was the "recognition of the Hmar as a tribe". The HPC(D) is demanding the autonomous district council status. In Manipur the tribes enjoy this status. Leaders of some outfits now in designated camps in Manipur are concerned since the talks with the HPC(D) bogged down on this issue considered insignificant in the context of the NE region. On the other hand, they have many big demands and they are afraid of the response from the government. Formal talks with almost all of them are yet to begin. In Manipur over 20 underground organisations had come overground after signing the suspension of operations. The population of the Hmar tribe in Manipur in general and Churachandpur district adjacent to Mizoram in particular is considerable. In the past the Hmar militants had created law and order problems including killings of some prominent politicians. Now police in the state are worried.
Meanwhile the Manipur government is concerned over the increasing instances of the flagrant violations of the ground rules of ceasefire and suspension of operations. Of late there had been kidnappings for ransom. Some leaders who had come overground had been arrested on the charge of sending extortion letters. Reacting to these ground rule violations the government has been saying that suitable actions will be taken up in this regard. But a wrong message has already been sent to those outfits which are planning to join the national mainstream since they fear that they may be left mid-stream after the surrender.
Mizoram was declared as an island of peace in the turbulent NE region. The state has been getting Rs 50 crore annually as peace bonus since the government does not have to spend anything in counter insurgency operations. But the situation is fast changing. Sometime back the Mizoram government has said that the militant organisations should leave the state before counter insurgency operations are launched.
Now police in Mizoram fear that the disgruntled HPC(D) may make their presence felt in Mizoram and Manipur.