Some days ago I saw a news report entitled: 'Mizoram Militant Leader Arrested In Delhi', in Yahoo news. It is the specious nature of the caption which captured my interest. One look at it would give you the impression that Mizo militancy once famed as the MNF Movement, and which is now in truce has undergone resurrection. After all the caption clearly stated : 'Mizoram Militant Leader'. I wondered immediately if there was a revival of the MNF insurgency, which was at its peak in the 60s, 70s and 80s, but which came to an end with the signing of the Mizoram Accord.
It is to the greatness and spirit of the Mizo people, that once they declared peace they never recanted. In fact their two main leaders of the insurgency Laldenga and Zoramthanga went on to become their Chief Ministers! This was in the true spirit of the cessation of hostilities that they declared. Ever since there has been peace in Mizoram. But attendant problems such as that of the Brus, Chakmas and Hmar tribes from Myanmar have made things just that complex, as all three coming from neighbouring countries wanted a separate identity carved out for themselves in the larger matrix of the society.
The Hmars are a sub tribe of the Lushai clan and they also have a sizeable population in Myanmar. In addition, they also live in Mizoram and Manipur. The problem became somewhat identical to that of the Foreign National question, that of Bangladeshi immigrants, in Assam. In fact the Brus indulged in kidnapping in the nineties, putting a lot of pressure on the people and the government. The Chakma refugees came from the Chittagong hill tracts and infiltrated even portions of Arunachal Pradesh causing resentment among the local people.
Now Mizoram is seized with the problems of the Hmars, whose claim to a separate state is becoming more and more obstreperous. But my point also is that this news caption was misleading: instead of 'Mizoram Militant Leader' the caption should have read: 'Hmar Militant leader' and gone on to explain the Hmar position, or point of view in Mizoram. Such ignorance about North East India in the 'mainstream' media has its rebounding factor, and pitfalls. It further alienates the people of the region who are cartwheeling under the forces of separatism, and feelings of neglect.
Reporters should do their home work, prior to writing down reports, which are miscued, and can cause anxiety. I, myself felt bewildered, when I saw it, and the first question that came to my mind was: Oh no, has it started all over again? But I repeat, I knew that Mizoram was embedded in the kind of peace, which was the gentleman's word. As I scanned the report, I was 'relieved ' to see that it was the reference to Hmar actions.
The media must exercise restraint, tact and verification of facts before filing reports on sensitive issues, on matters related to North East India, because of complexities involved there and there should be sifting of hard core facts. Otherwise the complaints of the people of the region, that this is a 'dark' area uncared for, will only be justified. Which means, further alienation.