The Mizoram Assembly on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution appreciating the Indian government’s efforts to realise provisions of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIPS) and asked that such efforts be continued and stepped up.
The UN’s DRIPS was accepted by the international body’s General Assembly in 2007 after more than two decades of negotiations. A total of 143 countries, including India, voted in its favour.
The state assembly’s resolution — whose wording was slightly amended after more than three hours of discussion that saw 15 legislators including Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla and Home Minister R Lalzirliana supporting it — was moved by Leader of the Opposition Vanlalzawma, a former Lok Sabha MP and leader of the Mizo National Front.
Four other members separately moved the same resolution, which Speaker Hiphei clubbed into one for the convenience of discussions.
All the members who took part in Thursday’s discussion spoke on two main themes.
One was that the Centre sometimes did not fully consider local terrain, customs and traditions while implementing policy or undertaking developmental works.
Another was the hope that the resolution would assist in realising the unity, at some point in time, of ethnic Mizos spread over eastern Bangladesh and western Myanmar as well as neighbouring states such as Tripura, Assam and Manipur.
The assembly’s adoption of the resolution was immediately applauded by various organisations including the Zo Re-unification Organisation or ZORO (which spearheaded efforts to get the Mizo community included in the UN’s list of indigenous peoples), the Zo Indigenous Forum and the Zoram Nationalist Party, which currently does not have an MLA but whose leaders are vocal about safeguarding tribal rights.
The Mizoram Assembly’s move comes amidst similar calls to safeguard tribal rights by various Mizo groups including the Mizo Students’ Union, which this week resolved to approach the government to to push for the designation of Mizoram as a “tribal area” under the Constitution’s sixth schedule and to amend the Mizo tribe list in the Indian Constitution of India.