Prime Minister Narendra Modi referenced the terrifying 1966 Mizoram Secret Air Strike in his response to the No Confidence Motion in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, which sent chills down the spines of everyone in the House, including the Opposition.
Highlighting the hypocrisy of the Congress for demanding a discussion on the Manipur problem, PM Modi asked the opposition party if those who were bombed in Manipur were not citizens of India.
He questioned whether the government, which had jokingly casually said that the Indian Air Force dropped bombs in the state to restore peace, was not responsible for providing security and eliminating the fears of the state’s citizens.
Well, let us tell you what happened back on March 5, 1966, in Mizoram, wounds of which have still not healed and the incident is mourned even today.
1960s: When Mizoram Was A Part Of Assam
The Mizo National Front was founded on October 28, 1961, while the Mizo hills were still a part of Assam, in order to assert their right to self-determination. The group first decided on a non-violent course of action to pursue its political objective.
However, the Mizo National Front began employing force as a result of intense internal pressure brought on by the local security forces’ violations of human rights.
Operation Jericho and Indira Gandhi’s Agonizing Reprisal
On February 28, 1966, the fighting volunteers of the Mizo National Front launched Operation Jericho to drive out Indian forces stationed in Mizoram. The Assam Rifles garrisons at Aizawl and Lunglei were stormed simultaneously, and the Mizo National Front subsequently declared its independence from India the next day.
Security personnel stationed in the Mizo Hills were startled when insurgents swiftly gained control of crucial facilities, including the government treasury in Aizawl and Army stations in the Champhai and Lunglei districts.
The federal government under Indira Gandhi soon responded. On March 5, four fighter jets from the Indian Air Force, including British Hunter and French Toofanis fighters, were dispatched to bomb Aizawl.
The Assamese planes took off from Tezpur, Kumbigram, and Jorhat and began firing machine guns at the town first. They returned the following day to detonate combustible explosives.
The bombing in Aizawl and other places continued till March 13 even after the town’s scared civilians panicked and fled to the hills. When East Pakistan was still in existence, the militants were forced to flee into the jungles of Bangladesh and Myanmar, respectively.
“They Hit The Heart Of Mizoram”
Recalling the heart-wrenching past memories, Thangsanga, a veteran member of the Mizo National Front, said that they did not anticipate that the Indira Gandhi-led government would order IAF to bomb its own people. He said that the citizens were pained seeing how their town was encircled by four screaming jet fighters, which suddenly rained bullets and bombs.
Immediately the building collapsed, and their little town drowned in dust and chaos. “They hit the heart of Mizoram, but not the Mizo spirit,” he said.
The bombing caused colossal destruction with some reports saying Aizawl town had caught fire, killing 13 innocent civilians.
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