Aizawl: The scrapping of special status granted to Jammu & Kashmir by modifying Article 370 of the Indian Constitution has triggered fear in the Christian-dominated Mizoram, which is given special protection under the provision of Article 371 G.
Article 371G, which came into effect after the signing of the historic Mizo peace accord in 1986, states that no act of President in respect of religious or social practices of the Mizos, their customary laws and procedures, administration of civil and criminal justice and ownership and transfer of land, shall apply to the Mizoram without the consent of the state legislature.
Some intellectuals and politicians were apprehensive that the Centre’s move may increase the demand for Union territory by minority Chakmas, whose population, according to the native Mizos, was compounded by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Lallianchhunga, assistant professor of the political science department in the Mizoram University, said that the abrogation of Article 370 can be replicated in Mizoram in two ways — firstly, the move will boost the morale of minority communities like the Chakmas in their demand for Union territory status.
Secondly, the right to purchase land and settlement in Mizoram may be opened to outsiders considering the consequence of the abrogation of Article 370.
He said that the Mizos will be ready to sacrifice their special privileges and status granted to them by Article 371G and the 1986 peace accord if the Centre tries to scrap special status granted to Mizoram.
A senior politician, who chose to be anonymous, also expressed apprehension that if the Centre scraps Article 371G, it may grant Union territory to minority Chakmas on compassionate ground as there is occasional communal issues between the Mizos and the Chakmas.
The fear of Chakmas demanding Union territory is also doing the rounds on social media following the Centre’s move to abrogate Article 370.
Meanwhile, former Mizoram chief minister and state Congress president Lal Thanhawla took to twitter sounding ‘red alert’ for the people of Northeast. He said that the Centre’s move has become a threat to states like Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunchal Pradesh which are protected by the constitution.
“If article 35A and 370 are repealed, Article 371G, which safeguards the interests and existence of lesser tribals of Mizoram, is under severe threat,” the Congress leader said in his tweet.
The Centre’s move to abrogate article 370 also came under severe attack from political parties.
Sounding high alert, state Congress said that the Inner Line Permit system, which protects the state from outsider under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, can become under threat. The party also called collective effort from political parties, NGOs and churches to protect the state.
Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and the newly floated People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM) also blamed the Centre’s move, saying it violated the federal spirit of the consitution.
Meanwhile, home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday told Rajya Sabha that the centre has no intention of scrapping special status granted to northeastern states under article 371 of the constitution.
The Centre had on Monday revoked Article 370 and proposed that the Jammu and Kashmir be bifurcated into two Union territories — Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh.