Mizoram: Of highway robbery, lottery scam and peace talks
A sensational highway robbery of gold bars allegedly committed by the officer and soldiers of a paramilitary force, mob violence in a court premises, delay in the repatriation of Brus, a lottery scam and talks with Hmar rebels were some of the developments that kept Mizoram in news in 2016.
Aizawl: A sensational highway robbery of gold bars allegedly committed by the officer and soldiers of a paramilitary force, mob violence in a court premises, delay in the repatriation of Brus, a lottery scam and talks with Hmar rebels were some of the developments that kept Mizoram in news in 2016.
The northeastern state was also jolted several times during the year including a 6.9-magnitude quake in April and a 6.7-magnitude one in January.
After repeated delays, the National Food Security Scheme was finally implemented in the state on March 1 when 6.44 lakh people were selected under the scheme while the government also decided that rice would be provided to 5.52 lakh people at a higher price.
The top news, however, was the highway robbery. A resident of Electric Veng area here lodged an FIR on April 21 alleging around eight gun-totting soldiers waylaid his car on the southern outskirts of the capital last December and decamped with 52 gold bars worth Rs 14.5 crore which he smuggled from Mizoram-Myanmar border.
The complainant claimed he did not file the FIR earlier as the soldiers, belonging to Assam Rifles, threatened him with dire consequences if he approached the police.
In the investigation, the eight Assam Rifles personnel reportedly told the interrogators that the dacoity was committed on the orders of the then battalion commandant and they submitted the gold bars to him at his official residence in Aizawl.
At least 14 people, including the officer, an Aizawl-based non-tribal businessman and a former student leader were arrested in this connection along with a Naik Subedar, four Havildars and three jawans of Assam Rifles.
The officer denied the charges and said he was at Silchar when the dacoity took place and claimed gun runners smuggling weapons from Myanmar were behind the heist.
The state government subsequently decided to hand over the case from the special investigation team to the CBI though the investigating agency is still to respond.
The launching of the National Food Security Scheme was marred by widespread mistakes committed while printing 2.45 lakh ration cards inviting attacks from Opposition parties. In some cases, date of birth of all the members of a family was shown as January 1, which prompted the state government to reprint the ration cards.
Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) outbreak hit the state in the early part of May causing the death of almost 4,000 pigs and piglets.
Mobs attacked district court buildings and official residents of judges in south Mizoram's Lunglei district on September 22 resulting in the Gauhati High Court withdrawing all the judicial officers from Lunglei.
The repatriation of Brus lodged in six relief camps in neighbouring Tripura which was scheduled to begin from November 30 could not take off due to a series of problems.
Demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 old notes saw people in Khawbung area in Champhai district along Myanmar border adopting a novel way to beat the cash scarcity by using paper notes in which the value of what was owed was written.
The 'lottery scam' caused quite a furore after the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said that the Mizoram government lost Rs 11,808.77 crore during 2012-13 to 2014-15 fiscal due to non-deposit of Minimum Guaranteed Revenue (MGR) and Administrative Expenses by four lottery distributors.
Following pressure from people, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla initiated peace talks with the Manipur-based Hmar People's Convention (Democratic) rebel group.