Hmar Insurgency in Mizoram

The Hmars are a group of tribal people living in three states of North East India-Assam, Manipur and Mizoram. Although the Hmar identity is strong enough, the Mizos in general consider them as a part of their broader community or at least as one of tribes that make up the Zohnahthlak, a loose grouping of tribes with largely similar customs, dialects and dress who live in Mizoram or its immediate neighborhood.

The Hmar insurgency has its roots in the historic Mizo Accord of 1986 which brought an end to the two decades of insurgency led by the Mizo National Front (MNF). But this accord did not grant the Hmar tribe administrative autonomy. As a result, some Hmar leaders formed the Hmar Peoples Convention (HPC) and began a struggle for autonomy. By 1994, the Mizo government set up the Sinlung Hills Development Council for Hmar-inhabited areas and though the HPC joined the political mainstream, yet an offshoot, the Hmar Peoples Convention Democrats (HPCD) emerged almost immediately and pressed on with the old demands.

The HPCD’s stated demand is a separate tribal autonomous district and at times a state called ‘Hmar Ram’. The HPC has little political clout even in the Hmar dominated areas; usually the electoral battle is fought between the Congress and the MNF only. Nevertheless, observers say political parties often use the HPDC for their own ends, especially during polls. Since an armed group can easily sway, rather threaten, voters. Occasionally, the group also boycotts polls-recently, village body elections could not be held in almost 30 villages within the groups influence.

The insurgent group does not have much influence outside the Hmar-inhabited areas. Even within their own strongholds, the insurgents are fast losing their support, because the HPCD is known to extort money from village heads, officials and businessmen, especially contractors. With the stepped up vigilance of police and intelligence of Mizoram; and at the same time, their self-styled army chief Lalropui Famhoite locked in the jail, the HPDC is somewhat subdued at the moment.

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