Bru National Liberation Front
The Bru National Liberation
Front (BNLF) is an armed outfit of the Reangs and is currently engaged
in negotiations with Mizoram government.
It was formed in 1996 following
violent clashes between ethnic Mizos and Reang tribesmen in the Mamith
sub-division of Mizoram State. The immediate cause of the conflict was
the demand for an Autonomous District Council (ADC) by the Bru National
Union (BNU), a political organisation of Reangs that was formed in year
1994. The BNU anchored its demand in the presence of a majority of Reangs
in the sub-division, and declared that their rights––political, economic
and cultural among others––were not justifiably protected under the
prevailing political arrangement.
The Reang Democratic Convention
Party (RDCP), another Reang organisation, passed a resolution in this
regard. This reportedly provoked Mizo organisations like Mizo Zirlai
Pawl (MZP) and Young Mizo Association (YMA)––fearing geographical division
of Mizoram––to organise violent attacks, in October 1997, on Reang settlements.
As a result, approximately 32,000 Reangs were displaced in the conflict
and have since been staying in refugee camps in the Kanchanpur sub-division
of the neighbouring Tripura State. The outfit’s cadre strength is estimated
to be a little over 100.
Aims & Objectives
The outfit proclaims its
primary objective as the protection of rights and dignity of Reangs.
The demands put forth by BNLF and its pattern of behaviour exhibit its
other aims and objectives as well. BNLF also endeavours to protect the
religious identity of Reangs, which it claims to be Hinduism. This is
manifested in its vehement opposition to the alleged imposition of Christianity
on Reangs. It has also demanded a separate Reang homeland in Mizoram.
Subsequently, it transformed its stand and aimed to achieve a separate
ADC, and reservation in the Mizoram Legislative Assembly for the community.
Besides, it has also taken up with the Mizoram government the issue
of repatriation of Reang refugees who had been displaced during the
October 1997 ethnic clashes. Only recently, it has agreed to tone down
its demand for an ADC and settle for a regional council.
Surajmani Reang and Hmunsiama
are 'president' and ‘deputy commander’ respectively of the outfit. Both
had managed to escape from the clutches of National Liberation Front
of Tripura (NLFT)
terrorists, who were holding them captive, in January 2001. Thang Masha
is another important leader of the outfit. Other leaders of the outfit
include A Joseph, ‘advisor’, Solomon Prophul, ‘general secretary’ and
S. Bru, the ‘organising secretary’.
The BNLF suffered its worst
reverse when the then ‘general secretary’, Hambai Mshoy, and the then
‘army chief’, Sheing Molshoy, were killed in an internecine clash with
the NLFT on July 9, 2000, at a camp in Bangladesh.
Area of Operation &
Areas in which BNLF cadres
are active include parts of Mizoram, Tripura and Assam. The areas where
the outfit has carried out major attacks include the Mamit and Lunglei
districts of Mizoram, the Hailakandi district of Assam and Kanchanpur
sub-division of North Tripura district. The BNLF is also known to be
operating in the dense forests along the Mizoram-Tripura border. Besides,
its hideouts are located in the Bhuban Hills of Cachar district in Assam.
The outfit is involved
in selective abduction for ransom, which is a major source of finance
for the terrorist group. In this, non-Reangs and Mizo Christians are
the primary targets. Besides, the BNLF is also involved in violent attacks
not only against non-Reangs, but also against security force personnel.
The outfit was also engaged in internecine clashes with other terrorist
outfits in the Northeast, like the National Liberation Front of Tripura
its cadres carry out attacks with modern weapons like AK series assault
rifles, grenades and bombs, and are well trained.
The BNLF uses both conventional
and guerrilla tactics in its attacks.
BNLF has both inter-organisational
as well as external linkages, which it uses to procure arms and train
cadres. Among its external linkages, Bangladesh is prominent. Its cadres
reportedly run camps and use Bangladeshi soil, particularly the jungles
along the international border with India, to house hideouts. This was
indicated by Church leaders, who mediated with top BNLF leaders at their
hideouts in May 2000 for the release of two Mizoram government employees.
The same was stated as early as in 1998 by the then Mizoram Chief Minister,
Lalthanhawla. BNLF cadres who had survived the July 2000 internecine
clashes with NLFT also confessed that they had hideouts in the Chittagong
Hill Tracts (CHT).
In the sphere of establishing
and maintaining linkages with other terrorist outfits operating in the
Northeast, the BNLF had very close links with the NLFT. It had even
signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU), which stipulated, inter
alia, that the NLFT would provide arms, ammunition and all every
logistic support to the BNLF. Thus, the NLFT helped BNLF grow and gain
in strength. This linkage was soured because of the BNLF’s alleged pro-India
tilt, its contacts with Indian security forces and for abducting and
killing Christian employees and police personnel of Mizoram. Eventually,
it culminated in a bloody conflict in which approximately 75 BNLF cadres
were killed by NLFT terrorists in a raid on a BNLF camp in Bangladesh.
The then president and general secretary of BNLF were also taken hostage,
but have now escaped from their captors and have since then surrendered
to Indian security forces, as already mentioned. Another bloody conflict
occurred between the two outfits on September 3, 2000. 14 BNLF and 10
NLFT cadres were reportedly killed at a Bangladeshi hideout of the NLFT
where it had invited BNLF to negotiate the release of their president
and general secretary. Following these incidents, the BNLF-NLFT connection
After its NLFT linkage
turned sour, the BNLF came into contact with the National Socialist
Council of Nagaland- Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM),
which obliged the outfit by providing an unspecified number of AK 47
rifles and ammunition. Besides, the BNLF has also maintained contacts
with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).
This had also been revealed by then Chief Minister of Mizoram, Lalthanhawla,
September 7, 2001, the BNLF has been engaged in a series of negotiations
with the Mizoram Government. However, a solution has not been arrived
at even after 11 rounds of negotiations. The 12th round talks,
which were to be held in the capital Aizawl on April 29, 2004, were
postponed by the State Government citing an ‘unhealthy political atmosphere’
prevailing in Mizoram. In fact, various political parties and community-based
organisations have put up a stiff opposition to any sort of arrangement
with the BNLF. The points of difference between the two sides relate
to determining the number of refugees who would be repatriated from
Tripura and the structure and nature of the political arrangement that
should to be put in place after the returning refugees are rehabilitated.
the BNLF contends that the number of Reangs awaiting repatriation is
more than 32,000, the Mizoram Government holds that it is no more than
a little over 10,000. On the kind of political arrangement that should
follow, the BNLF has toned down its demand for an autonomous district
council and is willing to negotiate for something less, a regional council.
The Mizoram Government has refused to grant thus far any separate autonomous
governing body for the Reangs. Moreover, it is also not ready to accept
the BNLF’s demand that the Union Government should be involved in the
ongoing peace talks. The State Government has also demanded that the
BNLF cadres should surrender if a lasting solution were to be found
and peace restored in the region.
May 17, 2004, Home Minister, Twanluia, informed the State Legislative
Assembly that an accord between the Mizoram Government and BNLF is to
be signed in June. Subsequently, on May 26, State Chief Secretary, H.
V. Lalringa, informed that the Mizoram Government has endorsed the draft
proposals for laying down of arms by the BNLF cadres and repatriation
of Bru refugees lodged in the Tripura relief camps. However, there has
been no subsequent progress in this front.
Beginning its inception,
it has led several violent attacks against ethnic Mizos as well as security
April 4: SFs arrested
five militants belonging to BNLF, from Baigunchherra in North Tripura
District. The militants were identified as Pradip Piter (28), Juam
Jhara Bru (28), Psamani Bru (28), Routijoy Reang (26) and Karanjoy
Reang (22). SFs recovered two locally made guns, one pistol and
two revolvers from them.
January 17: The Special
Investigation Team (SIT) of Mizoram Police arrested two militants
who were involved in the November 13, 2009 killing of a Mizo youth,
Zarzokima (18) of Bungthuam. They were identified as Vanlalfela
and Chusarai alias Lalrinfela. One seal bearing a 'logo'
of the United Liberation Army (ULA) outfit and donation receipt
were recovered from their possession. Mizoram Home Minister R. Lalzirliana
said that ULA was involved in extorting money at areas of Tripura
and Assam bordering Mizoram. He said, "They had even kidnapped businessmen
from the plain areas for ransom". The report adds that Vanlalfela
was a cadre of the BNLF and was involved in various crimes. Due
to internal rivalry and tensions, Vanlalfela left the BNLF in 2005
and became a cadre of the Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM).
He, along with 20 other BLFM cadres, refused to surrender when 802
strong cadres of the BLFM surrendered in 2006, the Mizoram Police
said. Chisurai joined the BLFM in 2006. He confessed that at least
13 Bru militants are still hiding at a Dima Halim Daogah (DHD) designated
camp in Harangajau of North Cachar Hills District, the Police said.
April 9: Mizoram Government officials led by the
Chief Secretary Haukhum Hauzel hold talks with officials of the
Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on various aspects of the resettlement
of 950 former cadres of the BNLF and the BLFM. The MHA officials
reportedly promised to take up the problems faced by Mizoram while
providing health care, education, communication and supply of drinking
water to the former militants who are resettled in the Mamit district.
March 17: Police personnel kill a hardcore militant
of the BNLF, Jaingba Reang, in an encounter at Dhalaicherra in the
Mizoram-Tripura border area. However, four other militants managed
to escape from the encounter site.
February 14: Three truck drivers from Assam's Cachar
district and a sub-contractor from the Kolasib district of Mizoram
are abducted by suspected BNLF cadres in two separate incidents.
August 23: The 'general secretary'
of the BNLF, Solomon Prophul Ushoy, claims that Bru tribals at refugee
camps in Tripura, who are awaiting repatriation to Mizoram, receive
extortion threats from the BLFM. He says, "We are worried about
our family. On August 4, we had received an extortion letter from
the BLFM demanding Rupees Five lakh. Since we have no money to give
to them, we are afraid these people would take action against our
family members most of whom are still in Tripura in refugee camps."
Ushoy says that the Government should segregate family members of
the BNLF and BLFM while repatriating the refugees in order to isolate
the BLFM cadres. He also asks the State Government to expedite the
repatriation of their family members from the Tripura camps.
July 26: The BNLF asks for more aid
for the Bru community pointing out that they form one of the most
backward tribal communities, with a literacy rate of approximately
10 per cent. BNLF chief Surjyamoni Reang said at the Tuipuibari
transit camp, where the outfit laid down its arms, he was hopeful
that aspirations of the Brus would be respected and also that the
Mizoram and Union Governments would provide them adequate development.
July 25: At least 195 BNLF militants,
including the outfit’s president Surjya Moni Reang and general secretary
Solomon Prophul Ushoy, surrender before the Mizoram Home Minister
Tawnluia at the Sidan transit camp in West Tuipuibari. Apart from
195 militants, 62 of their family members also surrender. The arms
deposited include two self-loading rifles, two AK-56 UMG, two Chinese
rifles, one AK-47 rifle, one US made M 16 rifle and two .303 rifles.
Additionally, the militants also hand over a binocular, one radio
set and 661 rounds of ammunition.
July 18: BLFM demands separate talks
with the Mizoram Government and threatens not to surrender arms.
The outfit expresses its unwillingness to lay down arms with the
BNLF, which has recently signed a cease-fire agreement with the
Government. Mizoram Government, however, denies possibility of holding
another round of peace talks.
May 3: BNLF ‘commander-in-chief’, Surajmani
Reang, says that he has already submitted the list of arms and ammunition
to the Mizoram home department.
April 26: BNLF, which signs a Memorandum
of Understanding (MoU) with the Mizoram Government, promises to
lay down all arms and ammunition within the next two months.
April 26: Mizoram Government and BNLF
sign a MoU. The MoU is expected to facilitate the repatriation of
Bru refugees staying in six relief camps in the neighbouring North
Tripura district. According to provisions of the MoU, the BNLF cadres
will surrender along with arms and come over-ground.
April 26: The Mizoram Government and
BNLF, at the conclusion of the 13th round of talks, agree to sign
a peace agreement. Apart from the BNLF, another outfit, the BLFM
has also participated in the negotiations.
April 3: The student body MZP announces
that it will boycott the negotiation process between the BNLF and
the Mizoram Government in protest against the outfit’s kidnapping
a student ahead of the crucial round of negotiations later this
month. A MZP statement says that, Lalrinawma, a student of the Kanhmun
High School, is kidnapped by the BNLF on March 29. The kidnappers,
who claim to be members of a faction of the NSCN, reportedly release
the student in return for a ransom amount of Rupees 25,000 on March
30. The BNLF leader Bruto Meshka, however, denies his outfit’s involvement
in the kidnapping.
March 29: Mizoram Government and BNLF
are scheduled to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on April 6,
following 12 rounds of peace talks. The outfit’s chief, Surjyamani
Reang, says: "We are ready to sign the accord, but need definite
assurances on crucial points to pave the way for surrender of arms
and ammunition by the rank and file of our outfit." He also says
that the Bru refugees from camps in North Tripura district need
to be accommodated in resettlement centers for their safety and
security with one-year ration provision for each family.
March 11: The 12th round of negotiations
between the Mizoram Government and BNLF is concluded. According
to official sources, both sides were able to finalise a draft agreement
for the repatriation of the Bru refugees to be signed in April.
March 5: BNLF enters into an agreement
with the NLFT to carry out joint attacks during elections to the
Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous District Council.
November 28: A tribal girl is killed
in crossfire between security forces and BNLF militants near Tharma
village in North Tripura district of Tripura.
October 24: Mizoram Government finalises
a peace agreement with the BNLF, following the 11th round of peace
talks last week. A senior government official said, "The peace formula
covers repatriation of the refugees as well as proper rehabilitation
of both refugees and BNLF cadres." A formal peace agreement in this
effect will be reportedly signed by both the parties once the Union
Government sanctions the funds required to implement the peace package.
September 19: Eighteen BNLF militants
are arrested from Satkarakhal Punji under Dholai police station
limits in the Cachar district of Assam.
- August 31: Three
contractors and an engineer, abducted on August 23 by the BNLF, from
Kulicherra hamlet in the Cachar district of Assam are released at
an unspecified place following the payment of a ransom amount ranging
between Rupees 14 lakh and Rupees 18 lakh.
- August 23: Four
persons, including three contractors, are abducted by suspected BNLF
cadres from the Cachar district in Assam.
- March 5: Six
BNLF terrorists, including a 'sergeant' and a 'corporal', surrender
before the Mizoram Police at Tuipuibari in the Mamit district.
- January 17: Five
BNLF terrorists are arrested from a relief camp for the Bru tribals
at Gachhirampara under Kanchanpur subdivision in the North Tripura
July 11: Eighth round of peace talks between the Mizoram Government
and the BNLF ends inconclusively in Aizawl.
July 7: Mizoram Government alleges that funds provided by the Union
Government to Tripura for basic amenities to Bru refugees staying
in six camps in North Tripura district were being stashed away to
June 9: BNLF terrorists release three persons, whom they had abducted
earlier on June 6 from the Mualthuam area of Mamit district reportedly
after a ransom of Rupees 3,000 was paid to them.
June 9: BNLF terrorists release three persons, whom they had abducted
earlier on June 6 from the Mualthuam area of Mamit district, reportedly
after a ransom of Rupees 3000 was paid to them.
- May 1: Mizoram Government alleges that Tripura is supporting the
Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF).
- November 21: BNLF spokesperson Chandramani
Molsoy says the outfit is unwilling to participate in the 8th
round of talks with the government, scheduled for December 2002.
- November 20: Mizoram Home Minister Tawnluia
says in the State Legislative Assembly, in Aizwal, there is no deadlock
in the talks with the BNLF.
Seventh round of BNLF-Mizoram government talks in Aizawl remains
The seventh round of Mizoram- Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF)
talks are deferred.
Two BNLF terrorists are killed in an encounter in the Ratabari block
(administrative unit) of Karimganj district, Assam.
August 23: BNLF
drops the demand for Autonomous Regional Council at the sixth round
of talks, in Aizwal, with the Mizoram government, and asks for a
Development Council, instead
- May 23: Fifth round of talks held between
Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) and Mizoram government to resolve
Reang issue. The talks end inconclusively.
- April 30: Thang Masha, BNLF president,
declares through a memorandum that the outfit is ready to negotiate
for a regional council, instead of an Autonomous District Council
- March 1: Talks between the government
and the BNLF resume. No agreement could be reached at the end of the
- February 28: BNLF and Mizoram government
resume talks in Aizwal. The same to be continued on March 1.
- January 17: BNLF declares that its cadres
would surrender if government concedes to its demand and includes
rehabilitation of Reang refugees.
- September 8: First round of talks starts
between BNLF delegation and State government.
- August 11: BNLF terrorist killed in
raid by security forces on its hideout in Bhuban Hills in Cachar district
- July 15: Mizoram government declares
that talks with the BNLF would be bilateral.
- March 12: Mizoram Home Minister states
that the government was ready for peace talks with BNLF.
- February 18: Reports say Surjo Moni
and Hmunsiama, the president and ‘deputy commander’ respectively of
BNLF, taken hostage by NLFT on July 9, 2000 escaped from their captivity.
- February 16: BNLF terrorists asked to
surrender by Mizoram government.
- November 19: BNLF’s hand suspected in
the Borahaldi carnage that claimed 14 lives.
- September 3: 14 BNLF terrorists killed
in an internecine clash with the NLFT at the latter’s Thangnan base
camp in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. BNLF also kills 10
NLFT terrorists in retaliation.
- July 12: Three BNLF terrorists arrested
along the Mizoram-Assam border.
- July 9: 75 BNLF cadres massacred by
National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) terrorists at one of their
hideouts in Bangladesh. The NLFT also takes hostage Surjo Moni and
Hmunsiama, the president and ‘deputy commander’ respectively of the
- June 30: Suspected BNLF terrorists kill
seven members of the anti-terrorist Hunter Force of Mizoram Police
and injure four others injured in an ambush along the India-Bangladesh
border in Mamit district.
- May 16: BNLF sets free two employees
abducted on April 15.
- April 19: Suspected BNLF terrorists
abduct school teacher near a village along the Mizoram-Tripura border.
- April 15: BNLF terrorists abduct two
Mizoram State government employees from Saithah village.
- September 23: Suspected BNLF terrorists
set off a bomb blast near Zawlpui hamlet in Lunglei district. No one
was injured in the attack that was possibly meant to target a moving
jeep carrying government personnel proceeding on election duty.
- October 21: BNLF kills a wildlife game
watcher of the Mizoram government near Persang village.