A historic move that ended two decades of Mizo insurgency | Popgen Tech
The historic Mizoram Agreement completed 36 years on June 30, 2022. Signed between the Mizo National Front (MNF) and New Delhi in 1986, the agreement has been called the only successful agreement in India, with observers referring to it as “ the only insurgency in the world that ended with a stroke of a pen”. Indeed, the signing of the Agreement not only ended the two decades of insurgency that broke out in the 1960s, but also paved the way for the former insurgency led by Laldenga they form the government in Mizoram.
Insurgency erupted in the Lushai Hills in 1966, following armed action by the MNF which emerged from the Mizo National Hunger Front formed by Laldenga to protest the government’s apathy against the famine.mautam) in the Mizo area of Assam in 1959. The appearance of famine first exposed itself in the flowering of bamboo, a phenomenon that portends the advent of famine, and which results in a profusion of rats. Then the rodent population ate the bamboo seeds, turned towards crops and human habitation, and took on the dimension of a full-fledged scourge. The destruction the rats created was appalling and they could harvest very little of the seed. The Mizos had to sustain themselves on leaves and roots, even as large numbers died of starvation.
The way the authorities handled the famine left the Mizos disillusioned, and secessionist sentiment soon began to rise among the Mizo population. The Mizo National Famine Front, which was originally founded to help alleviate the hardships of the people during the famine, transformed into the militant Mizo National Front on October 22, 1961.
The MNF organized a major uprising in 1966, which was followed by several years of underground activity. Like the Nagas, the Mizos sought and received help from Pakistan, China and certain groups in Myanmar.
Stay in China, however, disillusioned the MNF framework, and the Chinese intelligentsia did not transform itself into a strong relationship. This was to a large extent due to the influence of Christianity on Mizo society. But the inability to come up with the Communist Manifesto did not stop the MNF from undertaking some daring operations. On January 13, 1975, Lalhleia, a Mizo National Army commander and three of his cadres drove a jeep into the police headquarters in broad daylight and shot GS Ayra, Inspector General of Police, LB Sewa, Deputy Inspector General of Police. and Panchapagesan, Superintendent of Police while they were in a meeting, and escaped. Earlier on January 10, 1974, MNF cadres ambushed SP Mukerjee, the Lieutenant Governor of Mizoram. All these actions created a sensation in Mizoram and also helped the morale of MNF.
But after years of insurgency, the MNF – despite the help of anti-India forces – realized the futility of armed conflict and decided to settle for an armistice. When the movement abandoned violence, it returned to “God and Country,” and, as it was said, Mizoram became a haven of peace in a region characterized by turmoil. Indeed, Zoramthanga, the formidable deputy of Laldenga who took over the reins after the latter’s death, offered to mediate between various insurgent groups in the Northeast and New Delhi. But New Delhi failed to not only use the former insurgent leader’s offer but also to show the success of the Mizoram Accord.
However, a bit of protest was voiced as a result of the non-implementation of some of the proposals of the agreement, especially on the correct rehabilitation of former insurgents. Indeed, the Peace Accord MNF Returnees Association threatened to file an FIR against Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga for not completing the rehabilitation process. There was disagreement over the non-payment of ex gratia compensation to some of the victims of the conflict as well. Non-institution of a separate High Court for Mizoram also continues to be a grouse. But the Mizoram Agreement – if it is to be compared with other agreements signed in the North East and elsewhere – approximates the level of success by most counts. An important reason for the success of the Mizoram Agreement is the ability of the MNF and the government to show charity. For example, MNF has renounced its claims for Greater Mizoram.
The role of civil society in extending the peace dividend and taking measures to prevent a breakdown after the agreement was important. This was possible because of the close working relationship between the Mizoram government and civil society, the church being a very important element. But the agreement was criticized on the grounds that it catered to the concerns of only one group, the Lushai ethnic community. For this to happen, more agreements had to be signed with the Brus and the Hmars, not all of them were complete affairs. But the Mizoram Accord was a triumph of political reconciliation over conflict and violence. This is so despite the fact that certain aspects both in and without the agreement deserve attention.
One aspect related to the insurgency in Mizoram, which has come to the fore in recent years, is the use of the Indian Air Force against the MNF during the insurgency. It was perhaps the only theater where air power was used to control internal conflicts. The airstrikes, which began five days after Laldenga declared “independence from the Indian Union,” reduced the picturesque hill station of Aizawl to rubble. Zoramthanga, the Chief Minister of Mizoram, once said that the main reason he joined the MNF and became a rebel was the “relentless bombing of Aizawl in 1966”.
Although there is no official estimate of human casualties during the air raids on Aizawl, anecdotal reports are of the opinion that at least 20 people died in the attacks. On May 5, 2022, Lalruatkima, Minister for Information and Rural Development, addressed an event organized by Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), the student body of Mizoram in Aizawl to mark the 56th anniversary of the infamous air raid on Aizawl. The Aizawl rally held placards that read “Father, forgive them for not knowing what they have done to us,” and demanded a public apology from New Delhi “for attacking its own citizens with fighter jets as if the Mizos were his enemies.”
Despite the fact that Mizoram is now one of the most peaceful states not only in the Northeast, but also in the entire country, the memories of the attacks continue to haunt the survivors of the air strikes, where Toofani and Hunter fighter jets were used against. The MNF insurgents, who besieged the Assam Rifles garrison in Aizawl on March 5, 1966. Therefore, it is imperative that the feeling of alienation is not allowed to grow. Correct regret for an unfortunate action that took place many years ago would only show the majority of centrists on the periphery, especially in a population that has long abjured violence and returned to the mainstream.
The author is a conflict analyst and the author of several best-selling books on security and strategy. The opinions expressed are personal.
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