Over 700 JSS members trained in Mizoram, MNF claims

PARBATTA NEWS REPORT

Over 700 members of Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti (JSS) have undergone armed training in camps along the Bangladesh-Mizoram border, a source from the Mizo National Front (MNF) told Parbatta News. The source also mentioned that JSS members, from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, have started businesses in Mizoram’s Chakma-majority areas, involving purchases of properties like houses and shops. It’s alleged that these business activities are a front for sheltering armed trainees and acquiring weapons from Mizoram.

On January 24, a faction of the MNF, formerly a rebel organisation in Mizoram, known as the MNF Returnees Association (PAMRA), claimed in a statement that the JSS had established eight armed training camps in two districts. 

Based on this statement from PAMRA, multiple media outlets, including India Today, Assam Tribune, and NorthEast Live, ran reports that suggest that these camps are operating under the direct supervision of JSS leaders Santu Larma, Ushatan Talukdar, and David Loyal Bawm, who are also allegedly purchasing weapons and training materials from Mizoram. Local NGOs have also protested against JSS’s activities and called on the Myanmar government to urgently shut down these camps. 

C Lalthenlova, PAMRA’s general secretary, expressed serious concern for public safety, stating that the community is living in fear. PAMRA has urged the Mizoram government to dismantle the JSS’s armed training operations as soon as possible. If the government fails to act, PAMRA asserts it will take the necessary steps.

However, JSS has not yet responded to the media reports or PAMRA’s statement. Posts from JSS-supported social media IDs and groups claim that MNF has misunderstood the Shanti Bahini (peace force). They argue that the peace force is not a threat to anyone in Mizoram and is only fighting in Bangladesh to establish their rights.

These developments have sparked widespread discussions on social media, especially on social media IDs, groups, and pages related to Chittagong Hill Tracts, prompting Parbatta News to initiate an investigation. During the investigation, Parbatta News obtained some information about JSS activities from internal Mizoram and MNF sources. Although the sources confirmed the accuracy of the information about the JSS activities in Mizoram, Parbatta News could not independently verify it through a third party.

An anonymous source from MNF claimed that about 720 JSS members have been trained in these camps. The source further mentioned that JSS members have opened businesses in the Chakma-dominated areas of Mizoram by purchasing houses and shops. Some have also established marital relationships. Behind these activities, they are allegedly providing shelter to armed trainees and attempting to collect weapons from Mizoram. Parbatta News spoke to some Chakma members in the training areas, but they were not willing to provide any information.

According to an official document obtained by Parbatta News in Mizoram, a large training camp of JSS located in Salmore of the Longlei district is being led by Commander Fibir Chakma, with a mobile number of 9862**2738.

On the other hand, the training camp located in Silsuri village of Mamit district is being led by Company Commander Alo Chakma, and the camp in Amchari village is led by Commander Binand Chakma. The overall responsibility for training in the Mamit district lies with Prabir Chakma, with mobile number 87988**629.

The document states that JSS (Santu Group) is using Mizoram to kill and evict the Kuki-Chin community in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. It is also mentioned that, fearing a loss of power and control in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, JSS has been opposing the rights of the Kuki-Chin community. JSS is attempting to collect weapons using the Chakmas of Mizoram to establish their rights.

The report recommends destroying the JSS training camps in the border area using military force.

Reviewing this report, it is apparent that the armed presence of JSS along the Bangladesh-Mizoram border has created obstacles to the cross-border movement of KNF.

MNF-JSS Conflict

According to experts on the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Mizo National Front (MNF) had been conducting a separatist armed movement in Mizoram for a long time. Often chased by Indian security forces, they used to secretly seek refuge in the remote areas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

However, as it was not feasible to operate within the borders of another country, India employed JSS against MNF due to good relations. “Following extensive casualties in Bangladesh from JSS attacks, the MNF was compelled to sign a peace treaty with the Indian government in 1986. Since then, there has been a psychological conflict between JSS and MNF. Experts believe that MNF’s current position could be influenced by this conflict.

Furthermore, the resurgence of Kuki nationalism currently seen in South and Southeast Asia has turned Mizoram into a cocoon for the armed Kuki groups in the region. Bangladesh’s KNF and KNA have primarily been receiving shelter, support, and training in Mizoram. Based on ethnic and anthropological unity, most top leaders of the KNA, including Nathan Bawm, are believed to be hiding in Mizoram, according to Bangladesh’s understanding.

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