20 yrs on, ex-MNF cadres ask where's rehab, invoke info Act
By IE Tuesday July 10, 01:40 AM
In what could well be the first instance of its kind, former militants of the Mizo National Front (MNF) have applied under the Right To Information Act to find out details of Government rehabilitation schemes for them, that they say is yet to reach them even 20 years after laying down arms. The former Mizo Army insurgents have come together to form the Peace Accord MNF Returnees' Association (PAMRA), activists of which have been on a hungerstrike for the past six days demanding rehabilitation.
Incidentally, the ruling party in the state is the MNF, while current Chief Minister Zoramthanga was an MNF high-ranker during its militant days. Speaking to The Indian Express from Aizawl, Lalrawnliana, former Mizoram MLA and a "Col" in the militant Mizo Army, said all that the former militants had got over the past couple of decades were some Grade-4 jobs with the state Government, and what irked him is that even with former MNF colleagues in the Government, nothing has been done for the foot soldiers.
"The rehabilitation has been very poor, and we want our rights. Around 75 PAMRA members have been on a hungerstrike. We have finally been invited for talks with the CM. We have our demands, and we shall put them forward. It's been around three months since we applied for details under the RTI, and the RTI Commissioner has said we would get our reply later this month," Lalrawnliana, a diabetic whose health has been deteriorating since he went on the hungerstrike, said. Several elderly members refusing food have already been hospitalised, reports said.
PAMRA, comprising 572 former Mizo Army fighters, has also decided to begin a poster campaign highlighting the rehabilitation issue, and says it will go in for a protest rally and strikes if necessary. PAMRA members say they doubt if the Government has put together a rehabilitation package for them as promised, at all. PAMRA members working as Government servants have been asked to avail of casual leave to help out in the ongoing campaign.
The insurgency in Mizoram came to an end in the mid-seventies, after a Memorandum of Settlement was signed between the MNF leaders and the Centre. Since then, the former militant leaders have become part of the mainstream and have fought Assembly elections, while retaining the MNF party name. Zoramthanga has been elected five times to the Assembly, and is currently coming to the end of his second consecutive term as CM.