Mizoram sailor to contest LS election for ‘secession’

Former Navy sailor from Mizoram and Lok Sabha election candidate, TBC Lalvenchhunga. DH photo 

T B C Lalvenchhunga served in the Indian Navy for 15 years but has made “secession” a poll plank as he gears up to contest the lone Lok Sabha seat in Mizoram.

Lalvenchhunga, 36, a former Navy sailor, named as its candidate by People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM), says if elected, he would move a private members bill in Parliament for Right to Secession, not from the country but from BJP's Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

"The entire Northeast roared in protest against the bill as it seeks to allow illegal migrants to become citizens, based on religious consideration. BJP president Amit Shah has said his party will again bring the bill once the Narendra Modi government is re-elected. This is a dangerous bill as the indigenous people in Mizoram (in rest of the Northeast also) are already staring at demographic invasion from illegal migration of Chakmas (Buddhists) from Bangladesh. I am not demanding sovereignty like what happened during the Mizo Uprising of 1966 but the right to self-determination by the indigenous Mizos," Lalvenchhunga told DH over the phone from Champhai, his home town in Mizoram.

The PRISM is an anti-corruption watchdog-turned-political party.

The citizenship bill seeks to allow non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who had migrated till December 2014 due to “religious persecution” to apply for Indian citizenship, after a stay of six years. Organisations in the Northeast, however, fear that this would reduce them into minorities.

"They are welcoming the illegal migrants from Bangladesh, whereas the same government is putting the restriction on the free movement mechanism for Mizos in Myanmar and Mizoram. Mizos don't come here for citizenship, they come to meet their relatives," he said.

There are about six lakh Mizos in the Chin state of Myanmar.

Lalvenchhunga, now an entrepreneur, says the number of "illegal migrants" belonging to Chakma community from Chittagong Hills Tracts in Bangladesh, whose number stood at 20,000 in 1947 has now crossed one lakh.

Chakmas in Mizoram, however, claim that they are Indian citizens but are harassed and discriminated on suspicion of being illegal migrants.

Mizoram had seen demand for sovereignty during the protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in December and January. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 7 but was not tabled in the Rajya Sabha due to protests and Congress' opposition.

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Mizoram sailor to contest LS election for ‘secession’

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