The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court rap on Mizoram govt for paying rebels

Aizawl, Dec. 3: A court in Mizoram has indicted the Zoramthanga government for paying off militants to free hostages. The court was passing judgment on a related defamation suit.

In a ruling that has left the Mizo National Front (MNF) government red-faced, the court of the additional district magistrate (judicial) here has observed during its judgment that the government had paid ransom to the tune of Rs 60 lakh to Hmar insurgents during its previous term.

In settling the case of the Government of Mizoram versus R. Lalzirliana, a sitting Congress MLA, additional district magistrate (judicial) K.L. Liana issued a judgment last week where he said the government’s allegations that the legislator had engaged in defamation was untenable.

This was because, he pointed out, the government is not a person and is, instead, a sovereign power. The judgment further noted, after evaluating the statements of witnesses of both the litigant and the respondent, that it was the court’s opinion that ransom had indeed been paid for the release of hostages to Hmar insurgents.

At a news conference held in May 2003, Lalzirliana had alleged that the Zoramthanga government had paid huge amounts as ransom to arrange the release of Neepco workers who had been abducted by militants of the Hmar People’s Conference (HPC).

The government, however, had gone on record asserting that no ransom had been paid and that the captives were released following successful negotiations.

A minister in the Zoramthanga government and MNF leader, R. Tlanghmingthanga, had filed a defamation case that year on behalf of the Mizoram government.

While Lalzirliana was able to produce witnesses from among the recipients of the ransom and those who had delivered it, the government could not produce witnesses to refute the allegations.

The judgment observed that statements of the witnesses produced by the MLA laid the foundation for the basis of the contention that the allegations were indeed the truth.

While examining all the evidence and statements of the witnesses, the ADM’s court found no reason to disregard Lalzirliana’s allegations and instead found them to be true. Lalzirliana has welcomed the ruling.

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