Bangla Thursday, February 20, 2020

From Rebel to Peacemaker

Zoram Thanga is Chief Minister of India's tiny North Eastern state of Mizoram. A former rebel leader, Zoram Thanga, returned to normal life, and politics, in 1986 when the Mizo National Front (MNF) signed a political settlement with the Indian government led by late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

That settlement, known as the “Mizo Accord” brought an end to two decades of bloody insurgency in Mizoram.

Mizoram is a success story in India's tryst with reconciliation with battling  ethnicities. Zoram Thanga's second tenure as Chief Minister epitomizes it.

In an exclusive interview to South Asian Monitor’s columnist and former BBC correspondent Subir Bhaumik, Zoram Thanga provided rare details of how he was, and is being, used by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to bring other North Eastern rebel armies to the negotiating table, and how he is also involved in the Burmese peace process both in his personal capacity as a rebel-turned politician enjoying the respect of current underground chieftains on the India-Myanmar frontier and also as a representative of the Indian government.

Bhaumik found some Kuki rebel leaders discussing with Zoram Thanga as he walked into the latter’s modest office in Aizawl. Bhaumik began by asking him about his new role as Delhi's peacemaker in the frontier region where a new peace deal was signed on January 27 to end an insurgency by the Bodo tribes.