Signed between the Mizo National Front (MNF) and the Government of India in 1986, the Mizo Accord so far remains the only successful accord in the country. Security experts even refer to it as 'the only insurgency in the world which ended with a stroke of pen'. Mizoram witnessed two decades of insurgency which had broken out in 1960s and ended on June 30,1986 when Pu Laldenga signed a Memorandum of Settlement with the representatives of Government of India and Government of Mizoram. Over the years, Deepak Dewan, Executive Editor, North East Sun has been writing on the Mizo conflict from the time he met Pu Laldenga in New Delhi in January 1982, just after the talks had failed and MNF was banned again. Deepak Dewan recalls:

            It was a chilly winter and as such January is the coldest month in Delhi. I was on a mission to meet Pu Laldenga who was put up in a safe house somewhere in south Delhi, provided by the Government of India. I along with my photographer landed at the house in Chirag Enclave early morning at about 6.45 am and before the guard posted outside could react, I rang the doorbell. A minute after a teenaged boy opened the door. While I was asking him about Pu Laldenga, someone interrupted. "Come in, I am Laldenga", and a man with good built stretched out his right hand towards me. I shook hands with him and introduced myself, 'I am Deepak Dewan from Sun. I want to have a chat with you." "Repeat your name once again", Pu Laldenga said. "Deepak, Deepak Dewan," I replied. " Deepak is a good name. It means light. Your Sun magazine I have seen. It is very popular. You can ask questions," said Pu Laldenga with a smile and told a young lady in the house to bring tea for all of us.


            While blaming the Government of India for the failure of talks (1982) Pu Laldenga said "On January 12, Home Minister Zail Singh informed me about the talks being called off from their side and said in Urdu 'Laldenga , main bhi  majboor hun aur tum bhi mujboor ho, agar mamla khatam nahin bhi hota to bhi hamein doston ki tareh vedai leni chahiye'. (Laldenga, I'm also bound and you are also bound, even if we don't reach a settlement, let's part as friends)'. It seems they (The Government.) don't want any solution for the Mizo problem. What they are interested in is MNF surrender only. They don't agree to my proposals because they think by accepting my proposals they'll be rewarding insurgency _".  " I agreed to surrender with all my underground men in operation. The Government wants only that. But at the same time the Government is not willing to give anything. If you want everything and are not willing to give anything then  how can one even negotiate and the question of settlement does not even arise_"


            I did not meet any other MNF leader at that time and within one week Pu Laldenga returned to London and insurgency returned to Mizoram. What I learnt from my sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs was that it was not possible to dismiss or dislodge democratically elected PC Government led by Brig. T. Sailo to offer the seat of  power to MNF. Brig. T. Sailo (retd) being the Army officer had fundamental differences on the approach to MNF issue at that time. While the disturbances continued in Mizoram, in the next elections (1984) the Congress Party promised peace in Mizoram and was voted to power and Pu Lalthanhawla took over as new Chief Minister. On his first visit to New Delhi after meeting the Prime Minister, he had disclosed his views to me in an interview published in June, 1984, where he had confidently said, "My party promised to bring peace in Mizoram and so people opted for us. The undergrounds have high expectations from the new Government. We are going to bring both parties the MNF and the Government of India  to an atmosphere in which the talks can start again. And we hope the talks would restart soon_".


            Once again the clouds of disturbances started to clear over Mizoram with Pu Laldenga's positive response to the Centre's offer of resuming the dialogue. This was in August 1984. After working out certain modalities Pu Laldenga once again arrived in New Delhi and I met him again at his Mahadev Road bungalow. I would like to share some excerpts from my interview with him (published on December 8, 1984)


Deepak Dewan: You are again in Delhi after two-and-half-years. Last time in 1982 talks had failed. Now that you have met G. Parthasarthy, what do you think are the chances this time?

Pu Laldenga: The Government of Mizoram has changed now and it wants a peaceful solution to the problem. Even the party (Congress) fought elections on the issue of a peaceful solution. The Chief Minister also openly declared that it is not the Congress (I) which won the election but it was the people who struggled for an amicable solution. So that's the hope and the chances are better than they were with Brig. Sailo's Government, which was completely against any peaceful solution. I say this because he (Brig. Sailo) wrote about this in an article titled 'How To Tackle Insurgency.'

Deepak Dewan: At that time the talks failed because your main demand was the dismissal of Brig. Sailo's Government. I think that was one of the stumbling blocks_

Pu Laldenga: The dismissal of the Government is still one of our demands. The simple reason is that this is not democratically elected Government. Mizoram is disturbed area. The term 'disturbed' signifies that a free and fair election cannot be held in such condition. The basic reason is that the Government of India enforced Special Arms Power Act which empowers every NCO and above to use force to the extent of causing death. So how can there be free and fair elections in such circumstances? How can Indian Government ever stage elections there? That is the problem and this is not a democratic Government

Deepak Dewan: You mean even the present Lalthanhawla Government_

Pu Laldenga: Yes, even this Government as well. It doesn't make any difference which is the ruling party or who is the Chief Minister. The background of the elections is that the Mizo people live in fear. Not to speak of democratic elections, they do not have the fundamental right to live and they have no right to protect their own mind. Anybody's house can be raided and anyone can be arrested and detained for years together that is what the laws say. Can any man in his right senses believe that the elections are free and fair? Once the insurgency ends, the present Government should also come to an end. This demand is not negotiable and if it is not agreed to, let us not talk.

Deepak Dewan: So this demand (dismissal of State Government) remains the same?

Pu Laldenga: Yes, this demand remains the same because it is an undemocratic Government and we believe in democracy.

            Even I was surprised by Pu Laldenga's stubbornness on the State Government issue. He had not changed an inch on this issue but otherwise he was completely a changed and pleasant Laldenga who was looking forward to things with practical and very positive attitude. I started meeting him more frequently at his Mahadev Road bungalow. One day as usual I went to see him and told him to write one article on the peace process. First he out-rightly rejected but later accepted my request. The article titled 'Mizoram problem is almost solved' by Pu Laldenga was published in Sun dated December 29, 1984. Most of you after reading Pu Laldenga's article would find him a practical, positive and a forward looking visionary.


            Over to Pu Laldenga's writing dated December 18, 1982 : We are all working hard to solve the Mizo problem which has been going on for the last 20 years and here I must express my gratitude to the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It was she who always encouraged everyone of us to solve this problem peacefully and it was she who opened the door for the resumption of talks when she visited Mizoram in April 1984.


            It was very unfortunate that she was assassinated on the day I was to meet her. However, she had discussed about Mizoram before with Home Minister, Narasimha Rao and with the present Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who have a keen desire to solve this problem. And she is the force which has taken us to the conference table.

            Now we have solved most of the problems which earlier appeared as big mountains. We have narrowed them down to only a few points which will be referred to the Prime Minister. G Parthasarthy and I have agreed that these outstanding points should be referred to the Prime Minister for his guidance. And for that we are looking forward to meeting the Prime Minister. One cannot say who will be the next Prime  Minister. But the trend indicates that the same Prime Minister may come back to power.

            Now with the hope of solving this problem early next year, I am going back to London for Christmas and tentatively I will be back again on January 15, 1985. I shall be looking forward to meeting the Prime Minister.

            Peace is always a state of mind and it is important that everyone of us without any exception should understand that we all have to play a vital role. We all have to understand that peace has to be made withinvthe Mizos, with the next man, with the next house, with the next village. Everyone has to remember that he is a vital person. It is he who has to make peace. It is he who will bring peace to a 20-year-old war-torn State.

            They should not think Laldenga and the Government of India are making peace. But they have to contribute perhaps much more than us and they should never minimise its importance. Each individual is important. I want to make peace but some persons with vested interest are waiting for a chance to wreck these peace talks so that there shall never be normality in Mizoram.

Peace has to come from within ourselves and for that every Mizo has to play a vital role. This is what we all have to understand. Now we will try to work out what constitutional protections can be given to us because of our ethnic differences. This is being worked out.

            In this world we may not get everything of our own liking. There is certainly going to be something we have to accept from others also because there has to be a give and take in the world. The world in which we are living has to be built on give and take. Therefore, we all should understand that even this peace which we are trying to make, has to be based on mutual trust and on give and take. This, particularly, I want my Mizo people to know and this is precisely is being discussed with the Government of India.

            Now the talks are almost over and only a few points are to be tackled, but even so a few points in politics can take a sharp turn. We all should understand this and, therefore, each one of us should be  prepared for what we can contribute towards achieving peace. That is what I want to stress particularly to political leaders, religious leaders and leaders of social organisations. They should understand that we have to contribute to a peaceful solution to the problem of Mizoram.

            For the last 20 years there has been violence in every corner, particularly in every village and each household in Mizoram had to suffer. Now that those who were underground will be coming back, they should be welcomed with open arms. This is a fundamental necessity for bringing peace in Mizoram.  Some vested interests may try to create something out of this because of the human weaknesses. Nevertheless, we should try to make them understand that this is the time to heal. This is the time to understand. This is the time to love one another. This is the time to work together. And the underground persons should also understand that now is the time to go home and be good Mizos, good citizens of a great country, citizens who have responsibilities, citizens who have to contribute for the peaceful country. We all have to work together, meet together, serve together. We should remember that we all are brothers and sisters-part of the same family, part of the same society.

            Not only this Pu Laldenga along with his article also sent a hand-written note which read " I wish all SUN readers a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and for the people of Mizoram, a VERY PEACEFUL 1985 — Laldenga".


            Finally on June 30, 1986 the historic Memorandum of Settlement was signed in New Delhi by Pu Laldenga, on behalf of MNF, Pu R.D. Pradhan, Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India  and Pu Lalkhama, Chief Secretary, Government of Mizoram which closed the chapter of 'violent Mizoram'.


            But many of us may not know about another agreement signed between Indian National Congress (I) and the Mizo National Front (MNF). This agreement marked 'Confidential' was signed by Pu Arjun Singh, then the Vice President, Indian National Congress (I) and Pu Laldenga and it was signed in the presence of Pu Lalthanhawla, then Chief Minister of Mizoram. This agreement was signed on June 25, 1986, exactly five days prior to the signing of the Mizo Accord. In fact this agreement led to the signing of the main accord as the agreement took care of Pu Laldenga's demand of installing him as Chief Minister of Mizoram.


Text of the Agreement between the Indian National Congress (I) and the Mizo National Front, Mizoram :


            'The Government of India under the leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi has brought about a situation wherein the long years of disturbed conditions in Mizoram are being brought to an end. The Memorandum of Settlement is being signed between the Government of India and Shri Laldenga, President of the Mizo National Front to give shape to this effort to usher peace and prosperity in Mizoram within the framework of the Indian Constitution. Shri Laldenga has pledged to bring the M.N.F. into the mainstream of the Indian polity and irrevocably committed it to strive for a strong and united India.


            In order to further strengthen this resolve and to enable a smooth and orderly transition, the Indian National Congress (I) and the MNF headed by Shri Laldenga agree to form a coalition Government. This decision shall be implemented in the following manner soon after the members of the MNF who are underground lay down their arms and join the national mainstream.


1.   On a date agreed to between Shri Laldenga and the Government of India, Shri Lalthanhawla, the present Congress (I)  Chief Minister will submit his resignation  and Shri Laldenga will be elected the leader of the Government of Mizoram and be sworn in as the Chief Minister there.


2.   Shri Lalthanhawla, the present Chief Minister, will be sworn as the Dy Chief Minister.


3.   In addition to the Dy. Chief Minister, four members of the Congress (I) Party shall be made Ministers of the new Government.


4.   In addition to the Chief Minister, three members from the MNF Party will be made Ministers.


5.   The name of the Ministers will be nominated by the respective political parties and the Chief Minister will propose to the Lt. Governor.


6.   All issues concerning the formation and induction of this new Govt. will be decided mutually by the Chief Minister and the Dy. Chief Minister.


7.   In order to smoothen the function of the coalition Government, a Coordination Committee will be constituted consisting of the following:


 (a) Shri Laldenga - Chairman


 (b) Shri Lalthanhawla - Vice Chairman

 (c) Two members of the Congress Party.

(d) Two members of the MNF Party.

            This committee will take into consideration all matters concerning the party and the Government which either of the political parties may deem necessary to bring for its consideration in order to help smooth functioning of the Government and to bring better coordination between the Congress (I) and the MNF.


8.   This Coalition Government will continue to function till such date when the President is satisfied that normalcy has returned and the holding of elections has become feasible.

9.   In the event of any difference arising between the two parties in the functioning of the Government or relationship between the parties they would seek the help of the Hon'ble Prime Minister to resolve the same.

            sd/-                                             sd/-

       (Laldenga)                            (Arjun Singh)

        President                               Vice President

Mizo National Front                Indian National Congress                                                                                                        

25th June, 1986

            Whatever was agreed between the MNF and the Congress Party and the Government of India was strictly followed. All the armed cadres of MNF laid down their arms in July 1986. On August 2, 1986, the Young Mizo Association organized a grand reception for the MNF returnees in Aizawl. As agreed, Pu Lalthanhawla stepped down to become Deputy Chief Minister and Pu Laldenga took over as the new Chief Minister of Mizoram. That was the beginning of MNF as an over ground political party in Mizoram. All the cadres of MNF were rehabilitated in due course. All this transition would not have been possible without the will of the Mizos who longed for a lasting peace in Mizoram and now the peace loving Mizos are reaping rich dividends. One needs more Lalthanhawlas in the trouble-torn North East region who are willing to sacrifice their political interest for the sake of peace.