The Zo Reunification Organisation (ZORO) has warned that Mizo youths will go underground to take up arms again if the Centre goes ahead with the proposed fencing of the Mizoram-Myanmar border and scraps the Free Movement Regime (FMR), a Times of India report said.

ZORO is an Aizawl-based group which seeks the reunification of all Chin-Kuki- Mizo-Zomi tribes of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar by bringing them under one administration.

Addressing a massive rally in Mizoram-Myanmar border village of Zokhawthar in Champhai district on Thursday, ZORO general secretary L Ramdinliana Renthlei said the people and govt of the state had voiced their strong protest against lifting of FMR and fencing of India-Myanmar border, but the Centre remained adamant.

“If the Centre continues its plan to fence the border and ditch the FMR, the youths will have no other alternative but to take up arms again,” ToI reported Renthlei as saying.

ZORO president R Sangkawia alleged that some forces are out to destroy the unity of the ‘Zofate’ or ethnic Mizos by erecting a fence and discarding the FMR. “The Zofate, living in India, Myanmar and Bangladesh should not be disintegrated by such moves as a nation does not have borders,” Sangkawia said.

Adviser to chief minister Lalmuanpuia Punte, who is also the vice-president of ZORO, too said people living on both the eastern and western side of the Mizoram-Myanmar border river Tiau cannot be divided by this boundary imposed by the British colonial rulers.

“We will never accept the boundary imposed by the British govt and the moves been made by the Indian govt to accept the border,” Punte said, adding that Mizoram legislative assembly had on February 28 adopted a resolution, opposing the Centre’s decision to fence the India-Myanmar border and abolish the FMR.

The FMR allows people on both sides of the international border to move within a 16 km radius across the border without a visa. The bilateral arrangement, initiated in the 1970s, has been helpful for people who share kinship with those on the other side of the border to maintain their mutual age-old relations.

The Centre’s decision triggered sharp reactions from the Mizo-Kuki people of Mizoram and Manipur, as also Nagas in Nagaland and Manipur.

Mizoram shares a 404km-long border with Myanmar’s Chin state and the Mizos share ethnic ties and ancestry with people belonging to the Chin community.

The rally in Vaphai on Thursday began at 7am and ended around 10am while another procession in Zokhawthar, where the India-Myanmar Friendship Gate is located, commenced at 11am, the Zoro general secy said.

Thousands of people from both sides of the border, including refugees taking shelter in Zokhawthar and surrounding villages, as well as people from other districts like Aizawl and Champhai, participated in the rally.

The theme of the rally was “Unau kan ni, inthen thei kan ni lo” (United by blood and cannot be parted) and a number of people who did not enter Zokhawthar village also joined the rally at Khawmawi in Chin state of Myanmar, on the other side of the border.

According to a Mizoram Post report, rallies were held in some villages of Mizoram’s Champai and Lunglei districts and Manipur’s Tengnoupal district. While Lungei district borders Bangladesh, Champai and Tengnoupal borders Myanmar.

Addressing these rallies, Zoro leaders including its president R. Sangkawia urged the Centre to respect the rights of the indigenous people residing along the India-Myanmar border and not fence it. He said, “Mizo people who have been divided and scattered in three countries — India, Myanmar and Bangladesh — still dream of re-unifying under one administrative unit.”

Meanwhile, according to a report in the Ukhrul Times, Transborder Indigenous people (TIP), an organisation of cross-border Naga community, also came out in protest against the scrapping of FMR. In a meeting held in Ukhrul on May 16, the organisation deliberated on “whatever is democratically possible to pressure both the governments of Myanmar and India not to further divide the Naga family”.

MTNews Desk

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