Mizoram Year-Ender: Events that made headlines in 2020
Amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, which hit normal life in Mizoram, the state endured a series of earthquakes and a border skirmish in 2020, but all wasn’t lost as the government managed to put an end to the decades-old Bru settlers imbroglio.
Here is a list of events that made headlines in Mizoram in 2020:
1. Mizoram registers first COVID-19 death
The state reported its maiden COVID-19 case on March 24 and the first fatality from the disease on October 28, but the government, in association with churches and civil society, tackled the pandemic well, making Mizoram one of the least-affected states in the country.
An interstate border row with Assam, however, had the government on its toes, after Karimganj district authorities allegedly set fire to a farm hut and damaged plantations on disputed land near Thinghlun village in west Mizoram’s Mamit district on August 9.
Shortly after, on August 17, a violent clash broke out along Mizoram’s boundary with Assam’s Cachar district near Vairengte village during which a group of people torched bamboo huts and stalls erected by residents of Lailapur village in the neighbouring state along NH-306.
At least seven people from the state and a few others from Assam were injured in the clash, prompting the Centre to intervene.
Tension aggravated following the mysterious custodial death of a 48-year-old Assam resident in Vairengte and bomb explosions at two Assam schools.
Agitators blocked NH-306 that connects Mizoram with Cachar district in Assam, forcing the hill state to import oil and cooking gas from Manipur, its other neighbour.
The situation was finally defused in November after central forces were deployed on either side of the border and senior officials of both the states held meetings chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.
Mizoram shares a 164.6-km border with Assam.
Earlier in the year, a chain of earthquakes battered the state, forcing many panic-stricken residents to spend nights in makeshift tents outside homes.
Champai district suffered maximum damage, as over 280 houses were destroyed, causing monetary loss to the tune of over Rs 316.35 lakh, and compelling the state government to seek the Centre’s help.
The year also witnessed a fracas between residents of Mizoram and Tripura, when an indigenous organisation of the latter state attempted to construct a temple in a place claimed by both the states.
The Mizoram government clamped prohibitory orders at the disputed site, following which the organisation reversed its decision to build the temple.
Amid all these unwelcome tidings, the MNF government headed by Chief Minister Zoramthanga, made a significant achievement, with a pact to end the over two-decade-old Bru impasse, a move hailed by political parties and NGOs of the state.
According to the quadripartite agreement, inked by the Centre, the governments of Mizoram and Tripura and leaders of Bru associations on January 16, over 35,000 displaced Bru families, who were lodged at six relief camps in Tripura since 1997, were allowed to settle permanently in that state.
Mizoram’s major opposition party, the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), wrote to the Election Commission, seeking removal of names of Bru electorate from the state’s voter list.
Mizoram did not experience major political churnings in 2020, as the ruling MNF continued its winning spree in elections, sweeping all local and regional polls, including that for the Lai Autonomous District Council (LADC) beside village council and local council elections in various parts of the state.
The newly floated People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM) merged with four-decade-old Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) on October 6.
In a first in the state, Independent MLA Lalduhoma was disqualified as a member of the Mizoram assembly under the anti-defection law, as he joined the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM).
Speaker Lalrinliana Sailo, after disqualifying him on November 27, said the MLA forsook his independent character and joined the ZPM in “spirit and practice.” (With inputs from PTI)