Indian politician claims credit for NLD MP release

01 February 2020
Indian politician claims credit for NLD MP release
Chief minister of India's northeastern state of Mizoram Pu Zoramthanga (Right)

(Aizawl) The chief minister of India's northeastern state of Mizoram Pu Zoramthanga says he played a major role in securing the release of Myanmar's ruling NLD MP U Whei Tin who had been kidnapped by the Arakan Army. 

Zoramthanga's Mizo National Front fought a bloody 20 year insurgency against India before returning to normal life and politics in 1986 after an accord with New Delhi.

This is his second tenure as chief minister.

In an exclusive interview with this correspondent , the former rebel leader said he was requested by Myanmar government  to touch base with the Arakan Army and help secure release of the kidnapped MP.

U Whei Tin was finally released last week after being held captive for 79 days.

"The Myanmar government had given him up for dead. They requested me to do something. I contacted my friends in the Arakan Army and they said we cannot refuse you," Zoramthanga said. 

Indian intelligence sources say Zoramthanga send an personal emissary to an undisclosed Arakan Army hideout earlier this month with a firm request to release the NLD MP.

The Mizoram chief minister said he has been asked by Delhi to help in completing the Kaladan Multi Modal transport project.

The frequent kidnappings by Arakan Army of those working for the project has raised question marks over the completion of the project which is already behind schedule.

"I told them the present Indian contractor is at loggerheads with the Arakan Army. He can never complete the project like that," Zoramthanga said.

He said the foreign ministry has discussed in details with him and accepted his suggestion to change the contractor.

“We can negotiate with the Arakan Army when the new contractor is selected," he said.

The Indian army, on Myanmar's request, had launched an operation against Arakan Army bases in southern Mizoram last year.

Since then, the Arakan Army has been targetting those working for the India-financed Kaladan project which seeks to link Mizoram and the rest of India's landlocked Northeast to Sittwe port in Rakhine through the Kaladan river for connecting to the Indian mainland by sea.

Mizoram is keen to get the transport corridor up and running as soon as possible.