When the Indian Air Force bombed Aizawl

In the aftermath of the massacre of 76 security personnel by the Naxals in Chhattisgarh, a debate is on regarding the use of air power against the leftist militants.

While the government might still be contemplating about initiating such action, it wouldn’t be unprecedented for India.

[I had, almost five years ago, posted a post on this blog, but am not able to locate it now. Thankfully, found it in the email inbox. Reposting.]

It is a little known fact but perhaps the only instance in history where a country conducted an air raid on its own territory, against its citizens. On March 5-6, 1966 the Indian Air Force carried out air raids on the town Aizawl, in Mizoram, to soften the situation, so that the Indian military can recapture the town.

This dark chapter of Indian anti-insurgency history remains shrouded in the classified files. Very few people have spoken about it.

Gen. (Retd.) DK Palit states “… 5th March was the crucial day. At last, at 1130hrs came the air strike, IAF fighters strafing hostile positions all around the battalion area. The strafing was repeated in the afternoon… (6th March)… There was another air strike that day and that put paid to the investment. The hostiles melted away.”

[Gen. (Retd) DK Palit, Sentinels of the North East: The Assam Rifles, p. 264.]

Shobhit (in a comment to this post) asked for a more information on the incident. Here it is:

In 1958 there was a famine (locally called Mautam – meaning bamboo death in Mizo) in the Lushai Hills area of Assam (now Mizoram). Disillusioned with the lack of administrative aid during the famine, the Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF) was formed.

The MNFF in 1961 changed its name to Mizo National Front (MNF), an armed political organisation. The MNF waged a secessionist movement against the Indian state. In early 1966 parts of Lushai Hills including the district headquarters, Aizawl, slipped out of the administration’s hands into MNF control.

The Indian government, in an attempt to regain control over the rebel occupied regions, called in Air Force fighter planes from the Tezpur air base. The town of Aizawl and Tualbung and Hnahlan villages were bombarded.

The administration also moved out people from villages in the hills and resettled them in regrouped villages along the highways as a counter insurgency measure.

Though the government was successful in regaining control over Aizawl town, the insurgency continued for 20 years and ended with the signing of the Mizoram Accord between the Government of India and the MNF in 1986.

Pu Laldenga, the founder of the MNF, was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the newly crafted state of Mizoram in 1986.

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About Soumyadip

Soumyadip Choudhury aka Somu aka Chaiwallah is an internet addict. His wife and family suspect that he is secretly married to his laptop. The electric shock that he got while trying to fix a neighbour's TV set as a kid, perhaps ignited his interest in everything tech. A do-it-yourself guy, he doesn't believe in hiring electricians, plumbers or carpenters. But often ends paying the professionals more to fix his botched jobs. Somu secretly wishes he knew how to code and also grumbles a lot.
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2 Responses to When the Indian Air Force bombed Aizawl

  1. Shobhit Sujay says:

    This is certainly an important piece of information. Hardly anyone knows or speaks about this instance. However, it still needs to be elaborated a bit about who exactly were attacked in this. But as far as the present situation is concerned, I guess it’s practically impossible for India to wipe out the Naxal forces without involving the armed forces in the operation.

  2. Soumyadip says:

    @Shobhit I’ve now added additional info explaining the backgrounder of the incident.

    It is indeed strange that every time there is an internal emergency the Army has to be called in. The Army isn’t meant for that. Paramilitary forces like the CRPF and Assam Rifles are there to take care of internal contingencies. But call in the Army seems to be the only solution that people have in mind.

    The involvement of the Army hasn’t been able to wipe out militancy in Kashmir, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. In Mizoram, what the use of force failed to do a peace accord did.

    In Punjab, it was the police that played the pivotal role in putting an end to militancy (though the means are debatable).

    The armed forces are only an option and not the ultimate solution for all our ills.

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