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Mizoram To Be 23rd State Of India, Tribal Customs Protected

August 5, 1986

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Mizoram, an tribal region torn by insurgency, was declared the 23rd State of India by Parliament on Tuesday, ending a 20-year rebellion.

The new state is in India’s remote northeast region between Burma and Bangladesh.

″I welcome Mizoram as the 23rd state of The Union of India,″ Home Minister Buta Singh told the lawmaking lower house of Parliament after it passed a bill conferring statehood on Mizoram and another protecting tribal customs.

The bills must be passed by the upper house of Parliament and signed by President Zail Singh before they become law.

Mizoram was one of India’s nine federally administered territories. Statehood means it will have an elected state assembly and self-government.

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government last month signed the Mizoram accord - its third peace accord - providing a political role for the armed Mizo National Liberation Front and amnesty for fighters who put down their arms.

Home Minister Singh told Parliament Tuesday that 534 guerrillas had surrendered sophisticated weapons and agreed to stop fighting for an independent nation of Mizo tribe members.

Mizo leader Laaldenga ended his exile in Britain to sign the accord and will become chief minister of the new state. He recently renewed his call for ″greater Mizoram,″ an even larger state incorporating all Mizo tribespeople in India.

Home Minister Singh told Parliament Tuesday that India will never recognize a greater Mizoram in a region torn by other insurgencies.

Last summer Gandhi signed two other peace accords in Punjab and northeast Assam state. The Punjab accord failed to curb Sikh terrorism and has since collapsed. The Assam accord has not been fully implemented.

The Assam pact calls for expulsion of many immigrants from the state, disenfranchisement of settlers from Bangladesh and construction of a border fence to stop more from migrating into India.

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