Lal

BY: ANUMITA DAS

Former two-time Chief Minister of Mizoram, Lal Thanhawla is currently reading the Shashi Tharoor-authored “Why I am a Hindu” and says he would love to bring back his old habit of reading more in his leisure time.

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Appreciating the concept of “The Little Free Libraries” by the roadside in the capital city of Aizawl, the former CM said he intends to donate a few of his books to inculcate a culture of reading among the people of Mizoram.

In a candid conversation with Inside Northeast, the former Mizoram CM also lamented the violent communal clashes in Delhi and opined that the volatility has been exacerbated by the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), that initially sparked protests in NE.

Excerpts from the exclusive interview:

Your take on Clashes in Delhi over Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)?

Lal Thanhawla: It is quite unfortunate. CAA in itself is a violation to the Constitution. Ours is a secular constitution and our party leaders should also have the secular principles. I am happy that other states have also opposed to it. Yet, I believe it is more dangerous to the Northeast Indian states. They have included Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, which are all Muslim states. Their the minorities happen to be Hindus. The Act says that when they come, they will be given citizenship. We are bordered by Myanmar. Right from Mizoram through Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal. The Act does not include Myanmar. There the minorities happen to be Muslims and Christians. So, the Act is not in the interest of the entire country. I don’t want to name any community here but the intention is to make the entire country a Hindu Nation. And unfortunately the Home Minister (Amit Shah) said that from March, 2020 Uniform Civil Code will be applied throughout the country. That is also not in the interest of the country. We are fighting for integrity but the scene is different now.

The violent protests that happen in the country, be it North or South are the most unfortunate. The need of the hour is national integrity and communal integrity and harmony. These two things have been disturbed by the violent protests happening over CAA.

Is the government responsible for the ongoing riots/protests?

Lal Thanhawla: I won’t attribute it to any particular party but then it is unfortunate that these things are happening in the country. These, I am afraid, have been provoked by the CAA.

The momentum of Anti-CAA protests in NE seems to have slowed down. What is your take on the current state of the protests?

Lal Thanhawla: The protests may die down a little bit  but the fear still lingers. Certainly, since CAA is not in the interest of the Northeastern region, people should be always alert against this. For instance, all the states of the NE region have smaller population and it is easy for others to shun us. The CAA is therefore more dangerous to the NE part due to smaller states with smaller population. In Assam also there will be huge implications. It is extremely dangerous.

Religious Freedom in PM Modi’s regime?

Lal Thanhawla: As the Prime Minister of India, I don’t think that Narendra Modi will be against religious freedom. It’s just that there are many mouths in a party. Within the BJP, some of the MLAs and MPs speak against the interest of the nation. I have heard that the party is working on calming them down. I don’t think Modi can think of anything which will prove to be against the country and its people.

What are the main issues in Mizoram currently?

Lal Thanhawla: CAA is the main issue. Unfortunately the leader who belongs to the MNF (Mizo National Front) supported the CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) in the parliament, which later became the CAA. My party says that the MNF has flawed our Christianity by supporting the CAA. Because he has supported the CAB with gratitude and without the instructions of the High Command, he cannot do that. The MNF could not say NO. In the parliament the MNF says different things and in the state Assembly they say differently.

Mizoram border issues?

Lal Thanhawla: There is no problem with Myanmar. The border trade that was established during our time is very much active for the interest of both the countries. Drug peddling has become an issue though I would say. Mizoram has become the hub from where the contraband items are smuggled to the other parts of the country and world.

Regarding border with Bangladesh, I am happy that the Chakmas have raised the border fencing issue. However, due to border fencing we have surrendered much of our land through the fencing

You ruled Mizoram as its CM. What is your take on the current government?

Lal Thanhawla: For long 20 years they have destroyed Mizoram. To make Mizoram progressive and develop, I had to sacrifice. But the MNF has done nothing for the development of Mizoram…

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