The momentous period and memory of the declaration of Mizoram’s independence from the Indian union 56 years ago has not died down and is still afresh among the Mizos, even as the hilly northeastern state celebrated the 35th anniversary of its statehood.
The day, which falls on March 1, is commemorated as ‘Mizo National Day’ in Mizoram.
On March 1, 1966, just a few minutes past midnight of 28 February, the erstwhile underground Mizo National Front (MNF) led by legendary Laldenga declared independence against India, after launching coordinated attacks on security forces installations in different parts of the Mizo district (now Mizoram) in undivided Assam, which dragged the region into a 20-years long arm struggle for sovereignty.
To cherish the historic moment, the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) and a few enthusiast groups celebrated the 56th anniversary of the declaration of Mizoram’s independence or Mizo National Day in different parts of the state on Monday.
The celebration was held at the MNF office “Mizo Hnam Run” in Aizawl while the event organised by a group at Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MNF) office was graced by some prominent leaders, including two living signatories of the independence declaration.
Addressing the celebration at MZP office, R Zamawia, one of the eight living signatories and former defence minister of underground government, recollected the momentous period and how Mizo students during those days were ready to sacrifice their careers for the cause of their Mizo land.
He said that many Mizo students, including him, had joined the underground movement, which he claimed was Mizoram independent movement, while studying in Shillong in 1966.
H Thangkima, another signatory and former supply minister of the underground government, lauded the new generations for remembering and valuing the Mizo National Day.
He expressed hope day that the movement and mission that the MNF had spearheaded under the leadership of Laldenga will be accomplished and turned into a reality one day.
Recalling the underground movement, former rebel leader R Sangkawia claimed that the upgradation of two Union Territories- Manipur and Tripura to full-fledged states and creation of Garo and Khasi state under the North-Eastern Areas Re-organisation Act in 1971 was solely the by-product of the Mizo insurgent movement.
Simultaneously, Mizoram and the erstwhile North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) were also given Union Territory status due to the Mizo insurgent movement.
He said that the Nagas had rebelled against India much before the Mizos, but the Indian government paid less attention to them.
“As soon as Mizos took up arms, many tribes from the northeast approached the Mizo leaders, which immediately came to the knowledge of the Indian intelligent department,” he said.
He claimed the Indian government had legislated the North Eastern Re-Organisation Act to reorganise and give political status to the northeastern states soon after the Mizo independent movement as it feared that the region will turn into the hotbed of insurgents or rebellion.
Addressing the Mizo National Day celebration at Mizo Hnam Run, ruling MNF treasurer K.Vanlalauva claimed that the party is the main driving force behind Mizo nationalism.
He said that the MNF had to declare independence against India and launched an underground movement to sustain Mizo nationalism and attained sovereignty.
The independence declaration was signed by 61 Mizo brave hearts, of which only eight are now alive.
During the operations to suppress the Mizo rebellion, the Indian Air Force had allegedly carried out aerial strikes in Aizawl and neighbouring villages on 5 March, 1966.
This, according to Mizo historians, remains the only instance of India carrying out an airstrike in its own civilian territory.
Coined by the MZP, March 5 is observed as “Zoram Ni,” to remember the hardships and turmoil faced by the Mizos during the alleged aerial strike and bombing of Aizawl and its vicinities by Indian Air Force in 1966.
On June 30, 1986, the government signed a historic Mizo peace accord with the MNF, ending the 20-year-long insurgency in this northeastern state.
Accordingly, Mizoram became the 23rd state of the Indian Union on February 20, 1987.