Ending The Armed Conflict In India (Mizoram)

Ending The Armed Conflict In India (Mizoram)

Year(s): 1986 – 2020.

Location: Mizoram, India.

UN Regional Group: Asia-Pacific.

Type of Conflict: Horizontal (non-state) Intrastate Conflict, Vertical (state-based) Intrastate Conflict with Foreign Involvement.

Type of Initiative: Mediation of a peace agreement.

Main Implementing Organisation(s): The Government of India.

Impact: Lasting.

Summary: The armed conflicts in Mizoram, India, were ended after a lengthy negotiation process between armed groups and the Government of India.

Description of Case 

Mizoram is a predominantly Christian state located in Northeast India which is home to a diverse range of communities, many of which are identified under the collective name Mizo. After initially being governed as an integral part of Assam, the federal state of Mizoram was established in 1987 after a lengthy insurgency by an armed group, the Mizo National Front, was brought to an end by the signing of the Mizoram Accord with the Indian government.[1] That agreement remains widely hailed as a success, preventing the state from experiencing the same level of conflict as many of its neighbours in the region and accommodating many legitimate concerns of some of the local population.[2] However, many communities in Mizoram remained unsatisfied with these developments. In 1986, armed groups representing the Hmar people began launching attacks in the north of the state, starting a relatively low-intensity conflict which continued until another Memorandum of Settlement was reached after talks in 1992-1994.[3] The key provision of the agreement was the creation of an autonomous Development Council for the community within the administrative framework of Mizoram. This left the Bru, historically a small community in Mizoram, but one that swelled in the 1970s after unrest in Tripura (itself a result of displacement from East Pakistan/Bangladesh) and the construction of the Dumboor hydroelectric dam forced much of the Bru population in that state from their homes and into Mizoram. In 1995 and 1997, the Bru community in Mizoram was subjected to violence by the majority Mizo population and were again forced from their homes, this time to refugee camps in Tripura.[4] Several armed groups emerged during this period, including the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF), and launched an insurgency against the state.

Talks between representatives of the BNLF, Mizoram state, and the Indian government began in 1998. After 13 rounds of talks, the parties agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding in which the BNLF agreed to end its insurgency and state authorities committed to providing the Bru with constitutional protections and development support.[5] This ended the fighting for all intents and purposes, although one armed Bru group remained outside the peace process. Furthermore, although some Bru returned to Mizoram from 2009 onwards, the majority remained in a highly uncertain situation in refugee camps in Tripura for decades. Talks between Bru representatives and various layers of the Indian government continued until 16 January 2020, when a landmark agreement was signed in New Delhi offering the Bru refugees the choice of being settled with government support in Tripura or returning to Mizoram.[6] This agreement resolved the conflicts in Mizoram.

[1] Memorandum of Settlement (Mizoram Accord), 1986. Available at: https://peacemaker.un.org/india-mizoram-accord86 (Accessed 11/01/2022)

[2] Swarna Rajagopalan. “Peace Accords in Northeast India: Journey over Milestones.” East-West Center Policy Studies, No. 46. (2008) pp.24-5

[3] Memorandum of Settlement Between The Government of Mizoram and the Hmar People’s Convention (HPC), 1994. Available at: https://www.peaceagreements.org/view/1837 (Accessed 11/01/2022

[4] Rahul Karmakar. “Who are the Brus, and what are the implications of settling them in Tripura?” The Hindu. (20 January 2020) Available at: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/who-are-the-brus-and-what-are-the-implications-of-settling-them-in-tripura/article30600913.ece (Accessed 11/01/2022)

[5] Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of Mizoram and the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF), 2005. Available at: https://www.peaceagreements.org/view/1836 (Accessed 11/01/2022)

[6] Debrajk Deb. “Explained: What is the agreement to settle Bru refugees in Tripura?” The Indian Express. (20 January 2020) Available at: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/understanding-the-bru-refugees-settlement-mizoram-tripura-6224956/ (Accessed 11/01/2022)