Amidst the Kuki, Zomi, Mizo, Hmar tribes in Manipur have agreed to come under one umbrella – Zo United, the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) has shown its firepowers against the Chin resistance groups in northwestern Myanmar, according to the website of Myanmar Now www.myanmarnow.org. The original report in Myanmar Now which has since been reproduced in other media outlets can be read HERE.
The ZRA, which operates in Chin State as well as neighbouring Indian states including Manipur raided one of the camps belonging to the Chin anti-junta resistance group, Chinland Defence Force (CDF) near Tonzang in northwestern Myanmar on August 31, and another CDF camp last Sunday, September 10, the Myanmar Now report further said.
Whether it is pre-mediated or not but the significance is that the last attack by the ZRA inside norwestern Myanmar against the CDF is after the Kuki-Zomi-Hmar-Mizo tribes have agreed to come under one umbrella – Zo United on September 7.
In a recent development amidst the violent conflict between the Kuki-Zomi militants and Meiteis that erupted on May 3 in Manipur’s Churachandpur district, the “Zo” ethnic tribes belonging to the Kuki-Zomi-Mizo-Hmar community in Manipur have agreed to come under one umbrella – Zo United.
This comes after representatives from all different tribe-based groups from Manipur’s Kuki-Zomi-Hmar-Mizo communities reached the decision on September 7.
Reports said that Mizoram’s NGO Coordination Committee hosted a meeting of the various ethnic Mizo tribe-based groups on Wednesday, September 6 in the hall of the central committee of the Young Mizo Association (YMA) in the southern portion of Aizawl City.
According to one of the leaders, there have been significant demands for a stronger united front to protect the tribal territories from alleged militant outfits against the minority ethnic Mizos, reports added.
The formation of ‘Zo United’ was made to improve the unity and cooperation of all ethnic Mizo groups and associations.
The new body will pick its leaders before September 20 and will be represented by one leader from each tribe and sub-tribe Inpi/Inpui (apex body), as well as the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), the Committee on Tribal Unity (COTU), and the Hill Tribal Council (HTC).
It is also said that ‘Zo United’ is not a name derived from a single ethnic Mizo tribe but an organization founded to strengthen the unity and coordination amongst all the Kuki-Zomi-Mizo-Hmar tribes.
The meeting was attended by 16 organisations of Manipur’s hill based tribal groups areas and six Manipur tribal MLAs including 2 ministers belonging to Kuki-Zomi-Mizo-Hmar tribes, and representatives of the Mizoram NGOCC.
The meeting has also abolished the near-defunct Coordination Committee on Separate Administration Manipur (CORSAM) and Joint Inpi Council (JIC) with immediate effect.
Meanwile, according to a report of Myanmar Now published on September 14, India-based Zomi armed group raids Chin resistance camps in northwestern Myanmar.
The Chinland Defence Force (CDF) claims that two of its fighters were killed when the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) attacked its camps in Tonzang Township, northern Chin State twice in recent weeks.
Myanmar Now reported that the ZRA—another ethnic armed organisation based in the state of Manipur, India, which serves as a border guard force for the Indian government—raided one of the camps belonging to the Chin anti-junta resistance group near Tonzang on August 31, and another CDF camp last Sunday, September 10.
In the first raid, the ZRA overwhelmed the fighters in the CDF camp with superior numbers, killing CDF member Paung Kap Thang and seizing drones and heavy artillery, according to Thang Suan Mung, General Secretary of the CDF chapter based in Tonzang.
Tonzang Township, a hilly area, borders Manipur and Mizoram State in northeastern India. According to figures published by Myanmar’s General Administration Department in 2019, the township has a population of over 35,000.
“Most of the CDF fighters were able to escape with their own guns. But we weren’t able to take the more important drones, heavy guns, and artillery shells,” Thang Suan Mung told Myanmar Now.
“Two drones, one 60mm gun, two 40mm guns, a rocket-propelled grenade and seven motorcycles were seized,” he added.
The ZRA then raided another CDF camp in Tonzang Township at around 9am on Sunday (September 10), killing CDF fighter Mung Kap Thang and seizing an automatic rifle, according to the CDF-Tonzang General Secretary, the report added.
“When our comrade went to stand guard, we heard that they were already lying in wait and shot him. A gun was seized. After the fight, they immediately ran away,” he said, adding that CDF fighters had subsequently received orders to withdraw from the township temporarily.
The CDF formed in Chin State in 2021 in response to the military coup, and has since been fighting against the military regime alongside the older Chin National Army (CNA) – the armed wing of the ethnic political group Chin National Front (CNF), founded in 1988.
First formed in 1993, the ZRA was designated as a Border Guard Force for India in 2005. While the larger organisation is based in Manipur, India, the ZRA’s Eastern Command is headquartered in Chin State, report added.
The ZRA’s motives for attacking CDF camps near the India-Myanmar border remain unclear. Myanmar Now attempted to contact ZRA via e-mail regarding the raids on the two CDF camps, but has not received a response.
The Zomi Political Coordination Committee – the ZRA’s political wing – posted on its social media page on August 31 that the ZRA had succeeded in repelling armed men attempting to disrupt the stability of the township, in a reference to the raid on the CDF camp that day.
The ZRA has also been involved in clashes with the CNA since 2021. In addition, before the most recent incidents, the ZRA had raided camps set up by anti-junta Chin resistance forces in Chin State at least three times, the report said.
These raids by ZRA, which have included CDF strongholds as well as camps for small anti-junta defence groups based in the Chin homeland, occurred despite the ZRA’s Eastern Command issuing a public statement of support for the resistance against Myanmar’s military dictatorship in April 2021.
The CDF said in a public statement in 2021 that if the ZRA continued to attack groups fighting against the military regime, the retaliation would be severe. However, the ZRA carried out yet another attack in September 2021 on a meeting convened to plan the formation of a local anti-junta resistance group in Tedim Township.
It may be mentioned Manipur cabinet on March 14 decided to withdraw the Government of Manipur from the Suspension of Operation (SOO) agreements with ZRA along with Kuki National Army (KNA) and Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) out of the 25 militant groups of Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United People’s Front (UPF) under SOO.
However, ZRA shows its dominance and firepowers in different fronts particularly Churachandpur in the ongoing violent conflict between Kuki-Zomi militants and Meiteis. A number of Video clips in social media show Zomi militants and Zomi flags are dominating everywhere.
The pertinent question is while Kuki-Zomi-Mizo-Hmar tribes in Manipur have agreed to unite under one umbrella – Zo United, why ZRA, which claims for the unification Zo tribes, are attacking the Chindland Defence Force (CDF).
Senior Editor: Imphal Review of Arts and Politics