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Hmar militants take U-Turn on I-Day boycott call

Friday, August 16, 2019

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
Henry L. Khojol, Virthli i/c Mizoram
Halflong/Aizawl, August 15, 2019,Virthli (ONP): Even as rebel groups in India's Northeastern states have called for a boycott of Independence Day celebration in protest against the alleged Centre's Hindunisation process, the Hmar People's Convention (Democratic) or HPC (D) on Thursday took different turn and celebrated India's 73rd Independence Day at two separate locations with ceremonial functions and community services much to the amaze of the entire nations.

HPC (D) is a Hmar ethnic underground outfit (group) fighting for self-determination for the indigenous Hmars of North-East.

Assam region of the militant outfit along with leaders of various Hmar civil bodies and student organisation paid rich tributes to the freedom fighters on the occasion of Independence Day at its designated camp in Retzawl village in Assam's North Cachar Hills district, about 15 km from the district headquarters, Haflong, a Hmar leader said Thursday.

Joseph V Tuolor, general secretary of Hmar Students' Association (HSA), the lone student body and oldest organisation among Hmar bodies, unfurled the Tri-Colour and recalled the invaluable sacrifices made by the freedom fighters, in the august presence of the Hmar leaders during the I-Day celebration, she said.

Chaired by HPC(D) leader VL Hmar, the momentous event was addressed by Hmar Women's Association (HWA), Assam Hills president Ropui Hmar and Hmar Youth Association (HYA) assistant secretary Elbee Hmar, among others.

The ceremonial function was followed by a blood donation camp at Haflong Civil hospital.

Over 23 volunteers from Hmar dominated Halflong's Muolhoi locality donated substantial units of blood during the blood donation drive  organised jointly by HPC(D), HSA, HYA, HWA and an Assam based Hmar People's Union(HPU) at the district's premier hospital  to mark the I-Day with voluntary service, Elbee said.

Sources from Churachandpur said that Manipur region of the HPC(D) also celebrated I-Day with patriotic fervour.

Apart from unfurling the Tri-colour and singing the National Anthem, the militants held mass prayers, chanted Bible verses and organised community feast at Ankhasuo village in the newly created Pherzawl district in Manipur bordering Assam  to celebrate the I-Day and honour the martyrs, who laid down their precious lives for the cause of the nation, the sources added.

On what motivated them to celebrate the Independence Day unlike other insurgent groups, a militant leader, who chose to be anonymous, said it was to show solidarity to the citizens and highest respect to the heroes whose commendable valour and selfless sacrifices brought India free from the British yoke.

"No doubt we are an underground outfit but not anti-India. We merely demand our rights under the purview of the constitution like a child craving his needs from his parents," he said.

The HPC (D) was formed by the expelled leader Lalhmingthang Sanate in 1995 after the erstwhile underground Hmar People's Convention (now political party) signed peace accord with the Mizoram government in 1994.

Formerly, it has three regions-Assam, Manipur and Mizoram under its general headquarters.

However, the Mizoram region has been dissolved and is now in mainstream politics following the signing of peace accord on April 2 last year, which led to the creation of Sinlung Hills Council (SHC) by carving out 31 Hmar dominated villages in northeast Mizoram adjoining Manipur.

The Assam region has also suspended operation in 2012 following a series of tripartite talks involving the Centre and Assam government.

The outfit has been demanding Hmar Autonomous Council in Assam comprising core and satellite areas of Hmar villages in the state under the provision of article 244(2) and 275(1) of the constitution.

The Manipur region headed by L. Sanga is part of the United People's Front (UPF), a conglomerate of Zo ethnic militants in Manipur, which demand a territorial council for the Zo ethnic groups akin to Bodo Territorial Council in Assam.
The group has signed Suspension of Operation (SoO) with both the Centre and Manipur government.

Meanwhile, United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) along with Coordination Committee (CorCom), an umbrella group of major militant outfits in Manipur, has boycotted the Independence Day celebration in protest against the BJP's ideology of one nation, one religion, and one language and also the alleged attempt to transform indigenous cultures in the region.
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