In writing this article I do so in order to try and express my thoughts and also the views of others that I have spoken with on the circumstances surrounding the questions “who shot first and why were the Mizo people presumably celebrating the deaths?”.
The intention of this article is to try and make sense of the situation and not to hurt or offend anyone and certainly not to open up old wounds. I have looked at this from several angles and different perspectives for the past few weeks.
This is my personal hypothetical view to the queries that still lingers in the minds of several curious people to: ‘Who shot first’ – ‘How on earth did six Assam policemen died of gunshots if Mizoram police were not the one who opened fire first’ and ‘Why are Mizos celebrating the deaths’.
To make my supposed views clearer, with a reluctant heart I had to reiterate the same story being repeatedly told since the very unfortunate incident that happened on July 26, 2021.
As has been reported, 200 heavily armed Assam police with full sophisticated weapons and LMG led by IGP, accompanied by DIG of Assam suddenly appeared inside Mizoram crossing the boundary and forcibly occupied the duty post of Mizoram police by pushing out the handful of policemen who were manning that post.
The armed Assam police force was so fearful that they were even able to cross the camp of armed CRPF stationed at the border in order to maintain peace and protect the people living there. This is another incredibly questionable event that has puzzled the people of Mizoram. Many have asked, “How on earth did the Assam Police Force cross-armed CRPF camp without any resistance from the CRPF and sneak into Mizoram so easily?”
How was this possible? This was presumably one of the most controversial breaches of Indian security. This breached of Indian army security has been on the minds of the Mizo people who will carry the question ‘Can the Mizos ever put their trust again in the CRPF’ for years to come.
As an individual, I am extremely shocked and ashamed of this terrible security breach being a proud son of a second world war veteran. This security breach has in fact, caused the shedding of tears of the families of the very unfortunate police personnel who lost their lives that day.
This terrible ordeal could have been averted.
With the Assam Chief Minister frequently stating to “never withdraw” in his speeches, this time with every intention of occupying Mizo land, the Assam police force brought along with them an ambulance, two truckloads of materials and everything that would be needed for setting up camps. Judging from their movements it was undeniably apparent that they came inside Mizoram to set up camps and forcibly occupy the duty post of Mizoram police.
The plan seems to have been to occupy the entire area of Mizoram adjacent to Assam permanently as part of Assam.
The large contingent of fully armed Assam police force, accompanied by hundreds of civilians from Assam with whatever lethal weapons they could grab, some held rods, sticks, knives, slingshots and even bricks, started marching towards Mizoram. On their way, it was reported that they destroyed and ransacked a newly purchased car of a Mizo couple who were driving home to Mizoram.
On hearing of the incident Mizo people from the nearest village, Vairengte rushed towards the boundary to help protect the Mizo police camp. But the Mizoram police and the Mizos were over-powered by the sheer number of the Assam contingents and they pushed the Mizo people farther inside Mizoram, and forcibly drove the handful Mizoram police out of their duty post. This immediately escalated into more frightening tension to the point to where both the crowds started hurling stones at each other.
The Assam side seemed to presume that they could easily frighten the Mizos without much resistance as they had done in their previous attempts at invasions. But this time they met with strong resistance from the selfless brave Mizo people who were ready to sacrifice their lives for their motherland, and had decided that they could no longer tolerate these constant threats of invasion and that “enough is enough“ for them.
Thus, instead of retreating, the Mizo’s marched forward in defense of Mizoram territory. The Assam police too tried hard with all their strength pushing back the Mizo crowds farther inside Mizoram. For a while, both sides were pushing at each other and tensions began to escalate.
Seemingly, to try and disperse and control the escalating tension, the Assam police started shelling tear gas at the Mizos from the top of the hillock standing in open air from where they had forcibly driven out the Mizoram police who were stationed there. At some point, the Assam police started firing live bullets from their LMG, threw grenades towards the Mizos injuring some Mizo civilians and police. There was chaos among the Mizos as everyone scattered to find shelters from the barrage of bullets.
On the Mizo side, there was a strict standing order by the Home Minister of Mizoram that the use of deadly firearms was a last resort and the Mizoram police are only to retaliate ‘if the Assam side open fire first’. Here no one should doubt that Mizoram police will ever bypass the orders of their seniors.
Thus, in keeping with the existing standing order, just a handful of Mizoram police returned fire when fired upon from their safe strategic hilltop positions to Assam police down below. Presumably, the Assam police assumed that the Mizoram police would never dare to retaliate as in their previous attempted invasions. But they were wrong this time.
The Mizoram police acted in defense of their people when they heard the gunshots. I fear that the Assam police made the very unfortunate decision to use deadly force that ended in the senseless loss of lives.
On the question on “why are Mizos celebrating the deaths of 6 Assam policemen?” This question is being asked due to a video clip that surfaced which allegedly shows some Mizos ‘Celebrating’ the deaths. This clip was taken immediately during the aftermath of the incident and at that point in time those who are shown to allegedly be celebrating were not even aware that any deaths had occurred.
In my opinion, I believe that the clip has been misinterpreted and judged too quickly by many. What the video clip shows is the Mizo people and the police coming out of hiding, waving their hands in a sign that says “I am alive and safe” to their loved ones and the crowds anxiously waiting news.
They embraced and shook hands in joy as any person would do when they find their loved ones safe after such a terrifying ordeal and with relief when the Assam police waved ‘white cloth’ as a sign of ceasefire and surrender.
For non-Mizos to understand, let me share that when an incident of this magnitude happens and one has been “rescued from the jaws of death” so to speak, dating back to time immortal, the Mizo culture is to come together and give thanks to God for protection in a practice called “Thla Hual”.
This practice is done for a myriad of reasons such as recovery from an illness, accident or any other life-threatening situation. I am positive that when these police/people get back to their homes there will be a “THLA HUAL” celebration feast held with family, friends and neighbors. Let me restate that this feast is a sharing of food to give thanks for protection and not a celebration of lives that were lost during the incident.
We, the people of Mizoram are peaceful people who do not want conflict with our fellow citizens. Unfortunate circumstances perpetrated by others reluctantly compelled us into a situation we had hoped could be prevented. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the loved ones of those who lost their lives that day.
We grieve with them and hope that we can come together in peace and live in harmony with our brother and sisters in the Northeastern states from this day forth.
(Views expressed are the author’s own, and don’t necessarily reflect those of Northeast Now. The author, J.M. Vanlalhriata can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)