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.]
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.
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.