Mizoram polls: Remove trust deficit, Rajnath tells Kukis and Meiteis of Manipur

The Defence Minister reminded voters of the air strike the Congress government carried out in Mizoram in the 1960s

November 01, 2023 07:54 pm | Updated 08:58 pm IST - AIZAWL 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. | Photo Credit: ANI

A day after suspected Kuki extremists gunned down a Meitei police officer in Manipur, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said it was high time the two communities sat together to remove their trust deficit through heart-to-heart conversations.

Addressing the BJP’s election rally at Tipa in southern Mizoram’s Siaha district on Wednesday, he said the Manipur incidents “pained all of us” as the northeast had been very peaceful in the last nine years with insurgency having been at an ebb.

“I want to tell it honestly that no political party triggered this [Manipur] violence. A situation had developed and both communities felt insecure leading to the violence. I would like to request both communities to sit together and resolve the problem. I want them to remove the trust deficit,” Mr. Singh said.

“It is not through violence but heart-to-heart conversations that a solution to the problem can be achieved,” he said.

The Manipur crisis has been a major issue in poll-bound Mizoram where the majority Mizo community are empathising with the ethnically related Kukis. Some 12,500 Kuki people from Manipur’s Meitei-dominated Imphal Valley and peripheral areas are currently taking shelter in Mizoram.

The Mizos of Mizoram, Kukis of Manipur, and the Chins of Myanmar and Bangladesh belong to the greater Zo community who dream of a united homeland.

Beyond the ethnic issue, Mr. Singh reminded the people of Mizoram of how Aizawl was bombed during the Congress rule more than five decades ago.

“When Congress was in power at the Centre, it carried out the first airstrike in Mizoram. We will make sure there is never a situation in the northeast that makes our own government to carry out an airstrike,” he told the gathering.

The Indian Air Force had carried out airstrikes in Aizawl in 1966 during the early days of Mizo extremism led by the Mizo National Front (MNF), now a political party and an ambiguous ally of the BJP.

Mr. Singh said road and rail connectivity in the northeast improved significantly since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge as the Prime Minister in 2014.

“Road and rail connectivity in the region has changed drastically. We built 4,000 km of roads here after 2014. The government spent ₹58,000 crore for the purpose,” he said while criticising the MNF and Congress for failing to develop Mizoram.

“You may be away from Delhi but you are closer to our heart,” Mr. Singh said, asserting why the people needed to back the BJP in Mizoram.

Elections to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly are scheduled on November 7.

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