| R. Lalthangliana
Silchar, Nov. 28: The coincidence looks strange in hindsight.
The year Mizoram gained statehood and harmony, a group of peaceniks halfway around the globe was busy setting up one of the most high-profile peace institutes in the world — the New York-based United States Institute of Peace.
It was 1986.
Twenty-one years later, a Mizo professor is busy holding threadbare discussions with experts at the US institute to build a similar one in Mizoram.
For a state that has “won” harmony after years of bloodshed, it sure knows how to value peace.
But it is not satisfied with savouring its own harmony. Mizoram now wants the impart lessons on peace to the strife-torn region.
The state’s education and forest minister, R. Lalthangliana, a former lecturer at Aizawl’s Pachuunga Memorial College, visited the US last week and discussed the nitty-gritty of establishing such a centre in Mizoram with experts at the United States Institute of Peace.
The institute in Aizawl will be christened the Laldenga Institute of Peace after the first chief minister of the state who turned a peacenik after leading the Mizo insurgency movement.
Spelling out the curriculum, Lalthangliana said the proposed institution will have a “multi-dimensional approach to the concept of peace and try to look at the problem from different angles”.
To be funded by both the Centre and the state government, the institute will devote itself to research on the nature of conflicts.
Mizos still find it difficult to forget the two traumatic decades since 1966 when their picture-postcard land was ravaged by insurgency begun by the militant Mizo National Front.
After years of blood-letting, peace dawned on Mizoram, then a distressed district under Assam, in July 1986, when the charismatic rebel leader Laldenga Ralte signed a truce with the Centre.
“But the importance as well as the necessity of peace continues to overpower the Mizos, who have enormous faith in harmony,” the minister added.
“This proposed institute will be a fitting tribute to peace by an organisation (the Mizo National Front) which had sparked off a legacy of conflict and hatred in Mizoram and then bade goodbye to this confrontation,” said Bualhranga, a guerrilla veteran in Mizoram.
Lalthangliana echoed Bualhranga.
Being the “island of peace” in the Northeast, the state deserves this institute, he said.