Veterans of Mizo-National Army feel betrayed

Aizwal: The veterans of Mizo National Army who took up arms on a separatist demand in the sixties, said that they felt betrayed as many promises made by the Centre were not met.

"We were promised good rehabilitation and that all criminal cases against us will be withdrawn. We were given peanuts by the Centre in the name of rehabilitation. Criminal cases against us are still pending in Manipur," said Songchungoa, who was a 'second lieutenant' in Mizo National Army.

Songchungoa, a member of the Mizo National Front who earns a living as a daily labourer in the fields, along with hundreds of Mizo youths, were part of the armed Mizo uprising under the leadership of Pu Laldenga when the Mizo National Army was formed.

The insurgency ended in 1987 after a peace accord was signed between MNF and the Centre, with Laldenga becoming the first Chief Minister of Mizoram when it was created in 1987.

But for those war veterans of MNA, life has been much tougher after insurgency came to an end.

"We gave up arms as we were promised a better future in the new state of Mizoram and better economic and social conditions for fellow Mizo people. But those promises have not been fulfilled," said Rochungoa, a former MNA official.

Asked whether they regretted taking up arms against the government, Lalsangzara, a former MNA activist, said, "At that time it was a wave and we sailed with the wave. We fought for a cause. May be we didn't achieve it. But the reasons behind that cause still remain.

"But yes, now the situation is not there for any violence. The situation has changed. We will fight for our rights non-violently in a peaceful manner," he said.

Another former MNA activist, PC Lalrinkina, felt that the sentiments revolving around MNA still existed as every political party contesting the November 25 Assembly elections have its members in their ranks.

The state Congress leadership, however, rubbished the claims of betrayal and said that MNF was trying to flare up passions before the Assembly polls.

"If they are talking about Mizo nationalism, then the fact is they themselves surrendered in 1986 due to their own infighting. And, when the surrender took place only a handful of people turned out," campaign head of Mizoram Pradesh Congress David M Thangliana said here.

First Published: Saturday, November 23, 2013, 12:01

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