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Peace: Mizoram Experiment

Two men born in different parts of the world, literally and figuratively speaking, but yet ordained by the strange hand of fate that they meet and ink a pact that led to the complete transformation of a people and the land they inhabit. There was nothing in common between them. One was born in the first family of India while the other must have been born in some thatched roof with only the mid-wife present to assist her yet one thing that made these two diametrically different persons understand each other is the honesty and sincerity to find a resolution that will end the years of bush war waged by the Mizo National Front against the Government of India.

Laldenga was the personality from Mizoram who led his men out of the jungles to the negotiating table, while a young and full of bright ideas, Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world. The pact signed in 1984 is one of the very few accord or agreement that has taken its logical route, which is in sharp contrast to the other accords or pacts reached between Delhi and another party or parties.  That the Assam Accord fell flat on its face is there for one and all to see and far from bringing a semblance of normalcy, the ULFA went from strength to strength until its latest series of reverses.

However it is not only ULFA which Dispur and Delhi have to be concerned with but also the hitherto fringe players but which have gained prominence for their ruthlessness and madness in picking out their targets to eliminate them. One such group is the anti-talk faction of the NDFB or National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which was behind the recent systematic elimination of a large number of non-Bodo people. The Punjab Accord, which was signed at the height of terrorism, between the Government of India and the moderate face of the Akali Dal under Sant Langowal bit the dust in no time. The final nail in the coffin of the Punjab Accord was hammered in with the assassination of Sant Langowal by the radical elements.

Other accords were signed too, but without much significant success and this is where the success of the Mizo Accord needs special attention. In fact it would be an interesting subject for any research scholar to go deep into the factors responsible for the success of the Mizo Accord. From a State besieged by violence and where tales of excesses and atrocities committed by the security personnel have become part of folklore of the Mizos, Mizoram today stands as the model State of peace, stability, social responsibilities and one which has successfully exorcised the ghost of the gory past to now join the race of development.

Peace did not come easily to Mizoram and there is the need to stress this, especially with the peace parley on between the NSCN (I) and the Government of India. One very important point that has missed the eyes of the Naga people is the fact that the silence of the gun does not necessarily mean peace. Can the Nagas sincerely say they live without any fear of the armed cadres, who still get a thrill in throwing their weights around and haughtiness and materialism have become their second name? Are the Nagas free from all diktats issued by the said outfit from time to time?

We have cited the Naga example for it will help us to understand how Mizoram transformed itself from a State torn apart by violence to a place where peace is the by-word and where the head can be held high without any fear of retribution. Just as the presence of two antagonistic forces is necessary to create a situation of conflict, same is the case with creating an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

The Assam and Punjab Accords and earlier the Shillong Accord went kaput primarily because one of the parties or the two parties involved was not sincere enough. Moreover the impact of the people’s voice needs to be taken into consideration too. Peace may not have succeeded to such an extent in Mizoram, if the ruling elites had not listened to the cries of the people, who have seen their near and dear ones done to death in the most heinous manner. On the other hand, the people too need a conscience, a clean one at that, to point a finger at anybody, particularly those who design and chart out the policies and programs of the place and the people. This is perhaps what has set the Mizoram experiment apart from the other initiatives such as the Assam and Punjab Accords.

Peace can never be a one way traffic and it calls for sincerity, honesty and full commitments from all the stakeholders. That the initial enthusiasm demonstrated by the people of Mizoram, when Laldenga led his men out from the jungles, was just not another window dressing can be gauged by taking a look at Mizoram today. We really do not know if this is a principle from the jungles taken and implemented in governance, but taking the people into confidence at the time of taking up any major project is something novel and even unheard of in Manipur. This is what Mizoram has embraced as the unstated but important method of ensuring good governance.

Today Mizoram is not only the State with the second highest literacy rate in the country with 88.49 pc, but it has already started its tryst with development. Rajiv Gandhi and Laldenga are no more, but the legacy they have left behind in Mizoram gives us some hope in the class of people we usually call politicians. May their souls rest in peace.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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