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Contours of Non-military Intervention
Vijendra Singh Jafa*

 The insurgency in Mizoram attracted massive and often drastic military intervention, and among the most radical of these was the policy of regrouping of villages, through which over 80 per cent of the population of what was then the Mizo Hills district of Assam was relocated by the Army in ‘group centres.’ I had recently analysed this experience within the general context of the use and abuse of military force in counter-insurgency operations. [1] A number of friends in the army, police and the civil services, who have a professional interest in conflict studies, felt that this focus on the “regrouping experiment” created a partial and distorted picture of the Mizoram insurgency and its resolution over the years, culminating in the historical accord of 1986. Indeed, some of these friends expressed the sentiment that my “one-sided diatribe” against a particular army strategy – the regrouping of villages – would distort the historical record. This strategy had been analysed within a limiting context of a particular pattern of use of force, and was never intended as a comprehensive record of counter-insurgency initiatives in Mizoram, but this cannot be adequate defence against the possibility of future distortion or misinterpretation. Indeed, an isolated reading of “Counter-insurgency Warfare: The Use and Abuse of Military Force”, would ascribe far greater significance to the strategy of relocation than is merited by the historical record. Such a perspective would grossly underestimate the significance of the Indian victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan and liberation of Bangladesh, the devolution of huge economic largesse from the Central government for the “socio-economic development” of Mizoram, the very constructive role played by Christian Church leaders, and the deft employment of the inherent integrative capabilities of a national political party, which were primarily responsible for the resolution of the Mizo insurgency. Indeed, at the time of the eventual resolution of the problem, the regrouping – which had taken place over the period 1967-69 – had already been transformed into a dark memory, part of the baggage of local resentments and the memory of collective distress, that had to be overcome by those who sought to restore peace to the region. It is, consequently, necessary to examine the record of non-military interventions in Mizoram, so that a more balanced perspective is available on the actual course of insurgency in the State, and on the events and initiatives that ultimately resolved the crisis. [2]

As a result of the extensive military operations launched during 1969-70, insurgent activity declined appreciably and most of the insurgents took refuge in the Rangamati forest area of the Sajek range in East Pakistan.

Rebel activity during 1970 was also affected by the serious internal rift that had developed within the ranks of the Mizo National Front (MNF). The organisation was divided into two groups: the hardliners led by Laldenga and S. Lianzuala, and the moderates who included C. Lalnunmawia, the MNF Vice-President, C. Lalkhawliana, Thankima and R. Zamawia. Interestingly, the division was generally between those who were educated and those who were not. 

There were basically three reasons for this split.  First, Laldenga lived in great comfort in Dhaka, while his followers suffered the privations, discomforts and punishments of a war conducted largely in an inhospitable jungle terrain. Secondly, Laldenga tended to be an authoritarian in his attitudes towards the office-bearers of the MNF, and often took important decisions without consultations with other members of the Front. He had kept the visit of his emissary, Vanlalngaia, to assess the climate for negotiations with the government in 1969, a secret from his colleagues and this was greatly resented.

More significantly, however, it was the third reason that led to the split and ultimately the break-up of the MNF itself. Mizo Church leaders like Rev. Zairema, Rev. H.S. Luaia, Rev. Lalsawma and Rev. L. N. Ralte, representing both the Presbytarians and the Baptists, the largest Church denominations in Mizo Hills, had taken a stand against violence from the very beginning and had also told Laldenga that the Church was against any attempt to seek help from China. [3]   In their secret meeting held with Laldenga at Sabual village in November 1966, the Church leaders had unequivocally condemned the letters sent by the MNF threatening the lives of many people and the forced collection of funds by masked MNF men at gun point. [4]  

In April 1967, they wrote to Sainghaka, the MNF Home Minister, who was captured by the Security Forces (SFs) soon after, that,

You have taken up this course in the firm belief that by doing so you will create better conditions for our children and the future generations to come.  We admire the courage of your conviction.  However, we would like to remind you that India herself has never been one nation. The Telegus are as different from the Punjabis as the Bengalis are from the Mizos, yet we together are determined to build one mighty nation.  In this process, each of us has a right as well as a responsibility, and the welfare of our children in future depends on how we discharge and exercise our respective rights and responsibilities.  We would also like to point out that any self-respecting government should have naturally adopted the same attitude as the Government of India has adopted towards you. It might also be realised that the Government of India, in trying to keep up this self-respect and integrity, have incurred a great loss and a number of her sons too have sacrificed their lives. We firmly believe that the Government would go a step further to meet the desires of the Mizo people. [5]

They also advised Laldenga in May 1967 that if the insurgents availed of the amnesty offer made by the Government of India, it would open the possibility of negotiations. [6] The Church leaders also wrote to B. C. Cariappa, the Commissioner of Cachar and Mizo Hills Division and the Central Government Liaison Officer, in March, 1969 and attached the following remarks of Lalkhawliana, the MNF Finance Minister, which they had received:

Knowing full well the stand of the Indian Government from the Church leaders, I am prepared to work and do my utmost to help create conditions that would lead to peaceful solution of the present situation provided, of course, the Government of India is prepared to respond to my appeal. [7]

It is also revealing that the Church leaders informed Cariappa in June 1969 that Vanlalngaia, the Laldenga emissary who had been arrested by the SFs, was of the opinion that 90 per cent of the MNF people favoured a peaceful settlement on the lines suggested by Lalkhawliana. When the Church leaders met him in the Aizawl prison, he is reported to have remarked, "Our President, Laldenga, said, ‘I led you out of the Indian Union, perhaps I may not be the best leader for you to lead you back to the Indian Union.’” [8]


The MNF Split and the Bangladesh War

In March 1970, Laldenga removed Lalnunmawia from the post of Vice-President of the MNF and installed Lianzuala in his place. He also removed his army chief, Sawmvela who was replaced by the MNF Defence Minister, Zamawia. The coup de grace to Laldenga's relations with the Mizo Church on the one hand and his relations with the more moderate sections of the MNF led by Lalnunmawia and Lalkhawliana, was provided by his five-month visit to China from November 1970 to February 1971 along with his Foreign Minister Lalhmingthanga. Although the Chinese assured him of continued help, training and arms (this assistance was given by the Chinese in 1972-75), he was not quite sure of his next move and despatched two emissaries to India in February 1971 to explore the possibility of a negotiated settlement.

Apparently, Laldenga had not reckoned with the problem of the future of the MNF sanctuaries in East Pakistan, which was currently undergoing a phase of serious destabilisation. The Bengali demand for secession from Pakistan had turned into a mass movement with armed overtones by the beginning of 1971.  Many million refugees soon poured into India as the Pakistani army was deployed to crush the Bengalis, and the Government of India, pressed by mounting security problems on the eastern borders, offered general amnesty to the MNF with attractive, monetary rewards and offers of rehabilitation, in August 1971. This did not elicit an immediate response, but by the time the Indo-Pakistan War ended in December 1971 with the creation of Bangladesh, Lalhmingthanga, MNF Foreign Secretary, Lalkhawliana, the Finance Minister, Thangkima, the Education Secretary, and 14 other high-ranking MNF personnel came over to India and surrendered. 

After the liberation of Bangladesh, two MNF groups, one led by Laldenga and the other by MNF Colonel Biakvela, escaped through Chittagong Hill Tracts and Mizo Hills, respectively, to the Arakan Hills in Burma, where they were assisted by the Arakan National Liberation Front and the Communist Party of Burma.  A Pakistani diplomat from Rangoon soon visited Laldenga and arranged travel documents for him and his family and close aides under assumed names. Laldenga appointed Biakchhunga as the chief of the MNF in February 1972 and arrived in Karachi in Pakistan soon after, where he stayed till 1973.


The Union Territory of Mizoram

It was at this stage that the Government of India decided that the main military phase of counter-insurgency operations against the MNF was over, and it was time for seeking resolution of the conflict through structural techniques aimed at changing the political framework, and distributive policies for providing better economic opportunities and rewards. [9]   The structural changes that were brought about first involved devolution of political authority by changing the territorial arrangement, and, subsequently, electoral innovations. 

On January 21,1972, the Mizo Hills district was taken out of Assam and made the Union Territory of Mizoram under the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971, and the Government of the Union Territories (Amendment) Act, 1971. The Mizo Hills District Council was dissolved and, following elections in 1972, the Mizo Union Party formed the first Government of Mizoram after winning 21 seats in a 30-member Union Territory legislature.  The Indian National Congress won six seats and three seats went to Independents. One nominated seat went to a person of Nepali origin, one to a woman social worker and a third to a prominent businessman. Lawrence C. Chhunga became the first Chief Minister of Mizoram on May 13, 1972.  Towards the end of 1974, the Mizo Union Party merged with the Indian National Congress.  The Chhunga Ministry resigned in May 1977 at the end of its five-year term, and this was followed by 7 months of President's rule after which the next elections were held. 

Two important things that were to have a lasting effect on the future course of events in Mizoram occurred during the first phase of the Union Territory Government in the State. The new government needed a large number of civil services personnel –  secretaries, joint secretaries, deputy secretaries, directors etc. – to administer its various departments. Its responsibilities also entailed the establishment of the hierarchies of various departments, including the police, forest, taxation, excise, agriculture and industries. This meant finding officers to man the numerous posts in these new establishments. The number of officers available from the Union Territory cadre of the Indian Administrative, Police and Forest Services for the senior positions in these various organisations and hierarchies, was inadequate and it became necessary to bring officers on deputation from other States, to set the new Mizoram Government going. 

At this point, a large number of Mizo officers working in other States and regions of India expressed their willingness to serve in Mizoram, and the newly elected political leaders in the Union Territory supported the idea. As a matter of policy, the Government of India had thus far discouraged deputation of All India Services officers to their home States. But an exception was made in the case of Mizoram.

What was done to tide over a temporary shortage of officers, as well as to oblige loyal Mizo politicians, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Many of these officers were related to influential Mizo businessmen and politicians, including those in the MNF. Their arrival as senior officers of the government was a joyous event in the history of the community, and they became the nodal points of the most powerful social group in Mizoram, with a strong and abiding vested interest in their linkages with the rest of the country.


Socio-Economic Development

The British had done little to change the agronomic pattern of the hill tribal areas besides introducing some new horticultural plant material. The destructive slash-and-burn type of shifting cultivation called jhum had remained the main occupation of the Mizo population. Unfortunately, even the Government of Assam had done little to discourage this practice during the 25 years that the Mizo Hills were a part of that State. The British, and more particularly the missionaries, had no doubt taken some pains to develop modern education. But their scale and impact is generally overestimated. What had actually been done before Indian independence in 1947 was largely limited to the creation of infrastructure for primary and junior school level education that (thanks to Macaulay!) allowed the people to read the Bible and gave them adequate qualifications for menial and clerical jobs in the government.

The Government of Assam, however, successfully expanded educational facilities at the school level at a pace much faster than anything that had been done during British colonial rule. There is a tendency to credit a great deal of social and almost all educational development in this region to British efforts. This is far from the truth. At the time of independence in 1947, the Mizo Hills district had 2 High Schools with 430 pupils, 22 Middle Schools with 2,124 pupils, and 259 Primary Schools with 16,037 pupils. (District Handbook, 1961).  At the end of 25 years of association with Assam in 1972, there were two undergraduate colleges with an enrolment of over 500 students, 45 High Schools with an enrolment of over 4,000 pupils, 165 Middle Schools with more than 12,000 pupils and 750 Primary Schools with more than 50,000 pupils. (Census, 1971).  By 1988, the full-time student enrolment was about 165,000 in 12 colleges, 1 university, 150 high schools, 415 middle schools, and 1000 primary schools. Literacy in 1991 was about 86 percent as compared to 37 percent in the entire country. By this time, most of the illiteracy was confined to the elderly segment of the population, and it was not easy to find illiterate young men or women among the Mizos. There were 50 daily, weekly and other newspapers in Mizoram in 1991 as against none in 1946. [10]

Similarly, the medical facilities were expanded by about 200 percent between 1947 and 1972. [11]   The British had left only 133 miles of “jeepable” roads in 1947, and this went up to more than 1000 miles of roads in 1972, half of which were fit for 10-ton capacity trucks and passenger buses. By 1986, there were 2500 kilometers of roads in Mizoram, half of which were surfaced.

Development work came to a virtual halt when the insurgency started in 1966.  Despite the best of efforts, the development process could be put back on the rails only after the constitution of the Union Territory of Mizoram in 1972. The reason for this lay partly in the relocation of 80 percent of the population by way of re-grouping of villages to facilitate counter-insurgency operations. However, the economic development which took place in the post-1972 period reflected the desire of the Government of India, as has been stated before, to resolve the insurgency through distributive and structural changes, rather than purely military intervention which had hitherto underlined government policy.

The tables below show the phenomenal growth in government expenditure on development during the thirteen-year period (1972-85) just prior to the Mizo Accord, which ended the insurgency in 1986. It is interesting to note that from the 5th Five Year Plan (1974-79) onwards, three Northeastern States of Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh became the highest recipients of per capita public expenditure on development in the country. In fact, the development funds available to these States were four to five hundred percent more than those available to other States of the Union.


Development Expenditure in Mizoram (1972-1985) [12]

(in millions of rupees)



1972-74 1974-79

(2 years)

1979-80 1980-85

(1 year)


(1 year)






































Per Capita Plan Expenditure in Select States 

(in millions of rupees) [13]



4th Plan


5th Plan


6th Plan














All India





As against the 6th Plan outlay of 1300 million rupees for Mizoram, the 7th Plan (1985-90) outlay was 2600 million rupees, which further and dramatically raised the percentage as compared to the All India average.

The Centre had thus gone all-out to reduce the economic imbalances between the more developed parts of the country, and the hill tribal areas of the Northeast. This decidedly took the wind out of the secessionists’ main grievance and propaganda. But internally, within these States, all was not well with the way this windfall of money was utilised.  With a burgeoning bureaucracy, public employment in 1985 stood at 20,000 in Mizoram, with a population of less than half a million people.  With ‘easy money got in the form of relief, subsidies and loans,’ Mizoram suddenly became one of the best markets for electronic and other consumer goods in the country. [14] This was, however, expected to be nothing more than a temporary bonanza, which created conditions for peace but kept the economy stagnant. As Lalmachhuana appropriately points out:

Quite a large proportion of the money incomes thus generated...has been grasped by a few rich (inclusive of big contractors) and spent on luxuries.  This has had something of a ‘demonstration effect’ and now many people are in a great hurry to get easy money and are less willing to do manual work.  This has brought about a change in social values, which tends to create and perpetuate economic and social injustice in society. It is no wonder that in spite of huge expenditure incurred in monetary terms after the formation of the Union Territory in 1972, the economy remains more or less stagnant. [15]

The politician-bureaucrat-contractor nexus, which converted the highest per capita public expenditure in the country into an item of consumption, may have long-term economic repercussions. In the short-term, however, it created, among a very large number of people, an aversion for the hard life of the insurgency period and a strong motivation for the continuance of the ‘paid holiday’.  It made integration with India an overwhelming vested interest for the most vocal and influential segment of society. An IAS officer could build a house with a large government loan at low rate of interest, and then rent it out to a government department at the rate fixed by a colleague. [16]   A fifty per cent advance could be given to a supplier “just having a semblance of access to the articles intended to be supplied” [17] or to a contractor for constructing a building that would take five years to build.  ‘Fake subsidies in thousands of rupees for minor irrigation, contour terracing and plantations’ were distributed rampantly. However, measures such as the reimbursement of three-fourths of the expenditure and the cost of air travel for anybody going 2000 miles to the Christian Medical College Hospital in Vellore in south India for treatment, brought about tremendous social good, individual happiness, and goodwill for India. [18]


Indira Gandhi's Electoral Intervention 

There was another development in Mizoram with more far-reaching consequences. Although an insignificant Congress following had existed in Mizoram from 1947 onwards, the national parties had, by and large, remained outside the pale of the hill tribal politics, particularly in Nagaland and Mizoram. The national parties had avoided serious political infiltration and involvement in these areas, partly because of the apprehension that any such step would lead to more resentment and accusations of cultural domination, and partly because of the caution the national parties exercised in treading in these violent and insurgent areas. To a generation of workers in the various national parties in the Northeast, the likely electoral gains in these areas were too marginal in comparison with the risks to personal security that were involved.  Nobody among the national leaders seemed to have quite realised, right up to the late 1960s, that the direct involvement of national political parties in such geographically peripheral areas would have more than mere electoral implications. No one quite realised the integrative force of national parties in a democratic set-up.  

What motivated Indira Gandhi to make a serious political infiltration of Mizoram and Nagaland in the 1970s and 1980s is a matter of conjecture. It is, however, evident from her speeches and statements in Parliament and elsewhere, that using electoral politics as a vehicle for ethnic accommodation became her avowed policy in the Northeast immediately after the successful secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan. The creation of Bangladesh was recognised as a clear indication that ethnic disparities could be aggravated to the point of no return if the electoral game was not played deftly.  Her rejection of the Pataskar Commission Report also demonstrated that she had taken the demand for tribal autonomy more seriously than her predecessors had, and the idea of the so-called balkanisation of the Northeast had taken roots in her psyche much before the 1971 war with Pakistan. The work on the North-Eastern (Reorganisation) Act had started in New Delhi at least two years before its actual enactment in 1971. The subsequent involvement in the electoral politics of Mizoram and Nagaland was a veritable political incentive structure in one package.  It was seen by Indira Gandhi as the only way she and her party could directly influence the course of events in these geo-politically sensitive States which had been allowed to remain restive for over two decades. [19]  

Her timing was perfect. The acknowledged military superiority of India in the region in early 1972 was the right moment to play the card of devolution and electoral politics to counter separatism.

In this respect, therefore, the merger of the Mizo Union with the Indian National Congress in 1974 had serious implications.  First, it meant that a national party, which had been traditionally, and largely because of the British indoctrination, regarded as the party of the dominant Hindus, was now acceptable to the Christian Mizos. This multi-ethnic political coalition was the greatest achievement in an area riven by secessionist internal war. The old fears of the tribal leaders were either found to be untenable, or they had dissolved under the weight of the new political exigencies imposed by India’s emergence as a credible and prestigious regional power, and the corresponding and severe reduction of the power, prestige and delivery capacity of their erstwhile foreign supporter, Pakistan. 

The Congress party also became the rallying ground for all those who had deserted the Mizo National Front and had either surrendered in response to the amnesty offer or had recently come out of prisons after terms of detention or imprisonment. Thus a national party fragmented the support the MNF had enjoyed so far, and effectively prevented it from achieving political domination again. For most people with MNF antecedents, it was worthwhile to pitch in with a national party which was perceived as large-hearted enough to accept ex-rebels within its fold and resourceful enough to give them a new respectability. 

It was perhaps the last time in the impressive history of the Indian National Congress that the integrative ethos of the party was deliberately activated to buttress the unity of India. 


Brigadier Sailo   

But the road to that more acquiescent decade was hazardous.  In January 1974, Brigadier Thenphunga Sailo, a decorated officer of the Indian Army with a distinguished service medal (AVSM), retired and came back to his home in Mizoram. He first started a Human Rights Committee with the objective of rendering help in legal measures against the grouping of villages, to uphold civil rights of the ‘oppressed’ civilian population, and to educate the public in upholding their legal rights against the SFs.  These were populist slogans and attracted a large following immediately. For a while the sway of the ex-MNF people towards the Congress party was effectively stopped. On April 17, 1974 Brigadier Sailo formed a political party known as the People's Conference. Two years later he was detained under the infamous Mintenance of Internal Security Act of the Emergency era. Seven months after the Chhunga ministry resigned on May 9, 1977, elections to the Mizoram legislature returned the People’s Conference to victory, and Brigadier Sailo became the Chief Minister in May 1978.

His party won again in the mid-term elections of 1979 when he became the Chief Minister of Mizoram for the second time. Superficially, the defeat of the Congress was blamed on factors that had brought about the rout of the Congress and Indira Gandhi in the immediate post-Emergency phase. But Mizoram politics did not yet reflect the national sentiments and mood, and Sailo apparently rode the crest of popularity because of his anti-SFs stance, the promise his success held out for a negotiated MNF settlement with the Government of India, and the return of the prodigals from their self-imposed exile in the jungles abroad. [20]

A total of 500 MNF personnel surrendered in 1972, mostly without arms. There was no regular army in Mizo Hills between December 1971 and March 1973 due to the Bangladesh war and internal security was looked after by the para-military forces. A number of grouped villages were permitted ‘de-group’ by Chhunga’s, and later Sailo’s, Union Territory Governments.  The dusk-to-dawn curfew, which had been a permanent feature of Mizo life for the past thirteen years, was lifted, and the movement-by-permit system was also abolished.  These relaxations allowed free movement of people, including the insurgents. The hardcore part of the MNF in Arakan and those who had been trickling back into India from December 1971, now organised a second, and more virulent, phase of terrorism in Mizoram.  Four groups of 80 men infiltrated from Arakan and carried out many acts of sabotage, including the blowing up of the Aizawl Power House. Their chief ‘hitman’, Lalhleia, and his bands indulged in large-scale kidnappings, extortion, assassinations, murders, looting, arson, sniping and ambushes during 1972-74. Their first victims were those who had deserted Laldenga. Lalnunmawia, the ex-Vice-President of MNF who had fallen out with Laldenga and had since come overground and surrendered, was killed in the Aizawl civil hospital. 

During 1973, there were 40 such killings and 19 ambushes against the SFs. It was discovered that during the confusion prevailing in East Pakistan in 1971, the Mizo National Army (MNA) had looted some armouries and acquired more arms. Their effective strength, which had come down to about 500 in 1971, had again increased to about 1,000 by the end of 1972.


The Chinese Connection and Disillusionment 

In November 1972, the first MNF gang of 47 went from Arakan Hills in Burma to China under the leadership of MNF Major Demokhseik Gangte. They carried a compass but no maps and, taking the bearing from Arakan to China as 10 degrees North and confirming directions from the local people, reached their destination after 13 months. They passed through the Kachin area in Burma where the Kachin Independent Army (KIA) first mistook them for agents of the Burmese army and dispossessed them of all the weapons they were carrying. The KIA, however, provided them with clothing, food, escort and guides upto the Chinese border after they were convinced of their bona fides. This was on condition that the MNA would give them 50 per cent of the arms and ammunition they would receive from China, as the Nagas had done before them. The MNA entered Yunnan (Tinsum county) on December 28 1973 and stayed in China for three months and ten days.

The Chinese gave them 3 radio transmitters/receivers, 32 light machine guns, 12 pistols, 4 rocket-launchers (M 40) and 78 rockets, 28,614 rounds of ammunition, 32,000 US dollars, 62,000 Burmese Kyats, 69 gold chains of over ten ounces of gold each. In addition, each person received two pairs of olive-green uniforms, two pairs of boots, one cap, and one mosquito net, as well as a total of ten inflatable life-boats for crossing rivers, and some books by Mao-Tse-Tung. [21]

The Mizos started on their return journey in April 1974 and crossed the river Chindwin in Burma in January 1975. The KIA took only some ammunition and a few gold chains for their assistance. The MNA had left 3 persons behind in the Kachin area due to sickness. After two of their men were killed in an ambush laid by the Burmese army, they tarried in Burma for a while, after which 27 of them surrendered to the Indian army in Imphal on June 30, 1975. They obviously were not very happy with their first encounter with the Chinese and were in fact so disillusioned that they did not make any serious attempts to return to Mizoram. The Chinese had correctly assessed the total involvement of the Mizos with Christianity, which rendered the Communist ideology unacceptable and, beyond treating this as a goodwill visit and offering some gifts with a view to keeping the contacts alive, did not make any long-term commitments. In fact, so disillusioned was this group with the Chinese that its leader, Demkhosheik, suggested peace talks with the Government of India in a letter sent from his camp in Burma to Chhunga, the then Chief Minister of Mizoram.

Meanwhile, on April 23 1975, another group of twenty Mizos led by MNA Colonel Biakvela arrived in the Kachin area on the way to China.  They had contacted members of the earlier group while passing through the Burmese areas adjoining Manipur and discussed with them both the treatment they could expect in China as well as the possibility of opening up negotiations with the Government of India.  After hearing about Laldenga’s visit to New Delhi, they camped for sometime in a place called Hengmat in Burma and later surrendered to the Indian Army. In an interesting twist to the situation, they even requested the Indian Army to provide tents for their encampment in Burma.


The Last Great Surge of Terror

On January 10, 1974, the MNF ambushed S. P. Mukerjee, the Lieutenant Governor of Mizoram. Although the LG survived the bullet injuries, this incident created a sensation and prompted re-induction of the regular army in Mizoram. Militarily, the SFs were back to square one. The killings, sabotage and extortion continued unabated throughout the year, and there were reports that some insurgents had been provided with shelter in the houses of the members of the legislative assembly, civil servants, and police officers. It was not possible for the SFs to search these houses, as it would have offended those who had at least outwardly aligned themselves politically with India. 

On January 13, 1975, MNA Captain Lalhleia along with three others carried out the most daring assassinations. They drove in a jeep into the police headquarters in broad day-light, shot dead G. S. Ayra, Inspector General of Police, L. B. Sewa, Deputy Inspector General of Police and Panchapagesan, Superintendent of Police while they were in a meeting, and escaped. Although Lahleia, his comrades and a number of other desperados were soon eliminated by the SFs in the operations that were launched in the wake of the killings, this incident improved the sagging image of the MNA almost overnight and tremendously boosted their morale.

While this was certainly not the high point in the trajectory of insurgency, its timing was most unsuitable from the government's point of view. The democratic process had restarted in Mizoram after formation of the Union Territory. The masses had apparently had enough of trouble and harassment on account of the unending guerrilla warfare and most people earnestly desired peace and development. The cry for independence still struck a responsive chord in some Mizo hearts, but everybody realised that it was an impossible dream. There was substantial erosion of support for the MNF, and most people co-operated with them out of fear rather than as an act of faith. Despite the serious setback, however, the Government of India decided not to deviate from the policy it had been pursuing so consistently for some time. It was hoped that, in the absence of substantial foreign assistance, [22] this phase of terrorism would also become counter-productive sooner or later.


The Counter-gangs

G. S. Randhawa, a retired Brigadier of the Indian Army, was appointed as the new Inspector General of Police of Mizoram after the assassination of G. S. Arya. The new police chief adopted the strategy of impersonating the enemy to hunt down the MNA and its volunteer force in remote and relatively inaccessible areas.  He achieved a remarkable degree of success, and is often credited with ‘breaking the backbone of insurgency’ in Mizoram.

This idea is as old as warfare itself, but in recent times had been revived by Brigadier (later General Sir Frank) Kitson, who used his ‘pseudo-gangs’ of surrendered Mau Mau warriors to hunt down their erstwhile colleagues in the Kenyan jungles during 1953-55. According to Kitson, a soldier cannot use the normal methods of warfare when engaged in operations against ‘Bandits' and must adapt the system to the peculiar circumstances of the game. [23] He first used surrendered Mau Mau men to get information, and was able to get useful advance intelligence about the movement of enemy gangs, which was much better than merely analysing past events. Later, he began to use his pseudo-gangs most effectively for offensive purposes when some exceptional prize was to be gained, such as the elimination of an important gangster. Securing the loyalty of former enemies to fight against their own erstwhile comrades was no easy task, and Kitson wrote with extraordinary perspicacity about the methods that would yield this result:

I was gradually arriving at a conclusion that I have found to hold good in various different places. Briefly it is that three separate factors have to be brought into play in order to make a man shift his allegiance. First, he must be given an incentive that is strong enough to make him want to do so. This is the carrot. Then he must be made to realise that failure will result in something very unpleasant happening to him. This is the stick. Third, he must be given a reasonable opportunity of proving both to himself and to his friends that there is nothing fundamentally dishonourable about his action. Some people consider that the carrot and stick provide all that is necessary, but I am sure that many people will refuse the one and face the other if by doing otherwise they lose their self-respect... [24]

This is a sinister kind of warfare. After the Kenya experiment, the strategy was employed by the British Army and mercenaries against the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman in 1957-59.  A similar force called Selous Scouts were employed by the Smith regime in Rhodesia against the national liberation movement. This role was later fulfilled by the SAS in Northern Ireland as the British Army found it impossible to recruit Irish Catholics who would not find anything ‘fundamentally dishonourable’ in killing their own kith and kin for material benefits. 

In counter-insurgency warfare, professional soldiers trained for conventional combat often follow a vicious logic of escalation, which derives from acute frustration over an elusive war that seriously undermines not only their effectiveness, but the very validity of their training and organisation. Hence the compulsion to accept any strategy that gives their activity a semblance of direction or purpose – anything but helplessness! The Kitson doctrine had certainly fired the imagination of Brigadier Randhawa. He sought out the fathers, brothers, sons, and other close relatives of people killed by the MNF and enthused and motivated them to carry out ruthless acts of vendetta. There were, of course, considerable material rewards and incentives. He trained these ‘volunteers’ in the use of arms and sent them out into the jungle in small groups of commandos resembling the insurgents in dress and mien to surprise the MNA in their hideouts. [25] In a period of about four months, at least 100 men were killed by these pseudo-gangs. Just one national daily newspaper mentioned the presence of these gangs in a report which appeared only after the Indian ‘Emergency’ was over, and the Press was free to publish such reports.

These operations were, however, suspended by October 1975, when Laldenga started sending feelers to the Government of India from his sanctuary in Pakistan, and let Indian intelligence know that he was willing to negotiate within the framework of the Indian Constitution.


Towards Peace and Settlement

After the loss of East Pakistan, the Government and the Army of Pakistan had no use for Laldenga. They reluctantly allowed him sanctuary in Rawalpindi out of a sense of obligation for his past deeds against India. In fact, however, Laldenga’s continued presence in Pakistan constituted an embarrassment at a time when its government was all set for developing more cordial relations with India. Not the least of Laldenga’s problems was that his request for a sanctuary in Western countries drew a blank, and his assertion that he represented the government-in-exile of a Christian state fighting for its survival met with no sympathy. The Christian churches and other altruistic organisations were in no mood to embroil themselves in a controversy with India after their experience of the Naga case in the 1950s-60s. Moreover, Laldenga’s alienation from the Church leaders in Mizoram and his friendly overtures to China had taken away whatever credibility he may otherwise have had with the Christians in the West. He was, therefore, in a quandary: if he was going to be unwelcome in Pakistan before long, was mending his fences with India the only alternative he had?

In November 1973, he sent his aides, Zoramthanga and Zal Sangliana, to contact the Indian mission at Kabul. This could not have been done without Pakistan’s approval, as well as their desire to get rid of Laldenga. Zoramthanga was sent again to Kabul a year later as no Indian response to the earlier visit seemed to be forthcoming – this time to impress upon the officers at the Indian mission that Laldenga most sincerely desired peace and was willing to return to India.  It was now arranged that he should fly to Geneva to meet an Indian official, which he did on August 20, 1974, on a passport issued by Pakistan in the name of Peter Lee.  He confirmed his willingness to return to India for talks in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi:

I have already written a letter to you... As I had mentioned, I have no doubt in my mind that the solution of the Mizoram political problem will have to be achieved within the Constitution of India.... In order that I could contact my underground colleagues for injecting into them my belief and convictions so that they come round to my line of thinking, I would request for the facility of my coming over to India.... For obvious reasons, I cannot tell them straight away that I have agreed to discuss the solution of the problem within the Constitution of India.  Those people do not have the opportunity to appreciate the problem in the wider context of political developments all over the world. [26]

For the Government of India, however, it was important that Laldenga should come for talks only if he enjoyed the confidence of the rank and file of the MNF; a merely chastened Laldenga, without the authority to agree to India’s terms, would not do. A lot of work by the intelligence agencies and the Mizo Church leaders went into the processes through which a consensus of sorts was reached in the Mizo rebel leadership. On a signal from New Delhi, the top MNF brass in the Arakan hills in Burma were given safe conduct through India. Tlangchhuaka, the new MNF Vice-President, MNA chief Biakchhunga, and the MNF Party President, K. Chawngzuala, were allowed to fly to Delhi on way to Rome. They joined Laldenga in Cologne in November 1975, where he had already held several rounds of talks with an Indian intelligence officer. However, serious differences emerged between Laldenga and his colleagues during the nine days they spent in Cologne discussing the possible modalities of settlement with the Centre, and it was arranged that Laldenga would meet a MNF convention in Arakan to obtain their concurrence to his plans. 

Laldenga arrived in New Delhi on January 24, 1976 and a few days later he and his three colleagues went into five days of secret negotiations with Home Secretary S.L. Khurana, Mizoram Lieutenant Governor S.K. Chibber and Joint Secretary (Home) M.L. Kampani. The MNF leaders acknowledged that Mizoram was an integral part of India, agreed to lay down arms and to seek the solution of all existing problems within the framework of the Indian Constitution. Laldenga’s intention was to extract as much personal gain out of this agreement as possible, and he had repeatedly asked that the agreement should include a clause whereby he would automatically head a provisional government before calling for fresh elections.  His contention was that no real peace would come to Mizoram unless the terms of agreement were implemented by both sides under his personal supervision. This was, however, not acceptable to the Government of India, who insisted that the rebels must first lay down arms without pre-conditions. An agreement was, nevertheless, drafted in February 1976, and signed in July that year. [27]


The Janata Government of 1977-79

Shortly thereafter, in the general election held in March 1977, Indira Gandhi’s Congress Party was defeated and the Janata Party came to power at New Delhi. The new government resumed talks on May 18 to find ways to implement the July 1976 accord signed by the previous government. But the failure of these talks led the government to ask Laldenga to leave the country by June 6, 1977. On June 9, 1977, a group of 62 MNF and MNA personnel, led by MNF General Sawmvela, ex-Chief of the MNA, surrendered their arms to the Lieutenant Governor of Mizoram and declared that it was immoral to continue the armed insurgency after the New Delhi accord of July, 1976. Laldenga tried to save face by pleading for resumption of talks with the government, but he was again asked to leave India by November 21. He, however, managed to stay on in Delhi and pursued further dialogue with the then Home Minister, Charan Singh. However, these informal talks also broke down finally and irretrievably in March 1978, after Laldenga refused to give up his demand for an interim government to be headed by him and his party.

Laldenga nevertheless continued to stay on in Delhi in the hope of either succeeding in getting his friends to eschew their immediate political ambitions or in inducing the New Delhi liberals to greater sympathy for his cause. On the other hand, he asked the MNA to step up their subversive activities. This led to fresh attacks on the SFs, but the worst sufferers were the non-Mizo civilian officers, traders, domestic servants and labourers who were ordered by the MNF to leave Mizoram by July 1979. The new reign of terror led to Bengali reprisals against the Mizos in the neighbouring Cachar district of Assam, and many innocent people on both sides lost their lives before peace could be re-established between the two communities.

Meanwhile, Brigadier Sailo and his People’s Conference Party won the Mizoram elections in May 1978 and formed the new government. A month later, Sailo helped cause a split in the MNF. This led to Laldenga being ousted as its President by Biakchhunga.  Sailo also successfully persuaded New Delhi to place Laldenga under arrest in July 8, 1979.  Subsequently, Biakchhunga and his followers also came back to India and laid down their arms.


The Return of Indira Gandhi 

When Indira Gandhi came back to power in January 1980, the leaders of her Congress Party from Mizoram requested her to resume talks with Laldenga.  Laldenga was released from prison and all charges against him were withdrawn on June 30 1980. The government also suspended counter-insurgency operations in Mizoram. The veteran journalist and diplomat, G. Parathasarthy, was entrusted with the responsibility of negotiating a peace with Laldenga. But the talks failed again because Laldenga made what the government regarded as totally unacceptable demands. These included the constitution of Mizoram as a State on the Jammu & Kashmir model, unification of the Mizo-Kuki areas in Manipur and Tripura with Mizoram, delinking of Mizoram from the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, incorporation of the Inner Line as a constitutional guarantee, ouster of Sailo as the Chief Minister and installation of Laldenga in his place as the head of an interim government. The Government of India was willing to elevate Mizoram to a full-fledged State and make Laldenga the interim Chief Minister, but the other conditions were unacceptable. 

Acceptance by the government of these two conditions alone would, in all probability, have led to an accord, but Brigadier Sailo refused to hand over power to Laldenga.  Further talks at this stage were considered futile, particularly in view of the renewed violence that, according to the intelligence reports, was triggered on a command from Laldenga, who sought to blackmail the government through escalation.


The Psychological Pressure

The government responded to the renewed MNF armed activity by inducting an unprecedentedly large body of force in Mizoram. By the middle of 1982, there were four brigades with 12 infantry, 6 Assam Rifles, 2 Border Security Force, and 6 Central Reserve Police Battalions – a total of 26 battalions operating in the State. In fact, every road, town, group centre and village was saturated with troops. By a notification issued on January 20 1982 under the Unlawful Activities Act, the government again banned the MNF and the MNA. Laldenga was asked to leave the country and he left for London on April 21, 1982.

Such a large concentration of force, the renewal of restrictions on movement and dusk-to-dawn curfews were a grim reminder of the early days of the war. With many rounds of cease-fire and suspension of operations during the preceding five years, people had become used to a normal tenor of life. The renewed restrictions and curtailment of liberties constituted a great psychological pressure on the population. The level of violence did not justify the number of troops in Mizoram, but it had the desired effect. Very soon, nothing was in greater demand than normalcy and a life without security restrictions, and people clamoured for an agreement with the government. The Baptist and Presbyterian Churches made daily appeals for peace and harmony. The Mizo Pradesh Congress Committee, the local branch of the Indian National Congress (I), embarked on a campaign for the ouster of Brigadier Sailo and his government, who were held responsible for both the failure of the MNF-Government talks and the current suffering of the people. Sailo was openly charged with sabotaging the peace process because of his personal ambition and love for power.


Congress Alignment with Former Insurgents 

The next two years saw the development of secret links between the Indian National Congress (I) and the MNF, evidently with the full backing of Indira Gandhi. The Congress Party in Mizoram was largely a party of ex-MNF operatives and sympathisers. Lalthanhawla, who headed the Congress in Mizoram, was a young, suave and sincere politician who enjoyed an enviable degree of trust and respect in the Prime Minister’s inner circle. He was able to persuade the Prime Minister that, with her support, he and his ex-MNF colleagues in the party would be able to achieve what she herself desired most: a settlement in Mizoram leading to an end to insurgency and ouster of Sailo and his People’s Conference from power. Sailo had openly aligned himself with the Janata Party, which had ousted Indira Gandhi in 1977, and it was not long before there was a convergence of interests between Lalthanhawla and the grand political and nationalistic design Indira Gandhi had for Mizoram.

The results of the 1984 election in Mizoram were, therefore, more or less a foregone conclusion. Congress party fought the elections on the platform of peace and won with an overwhelming majority. Lalthanhawla became the first Congress Chief Minister of Mizoram in May 1984. In accordance with their election pledge, the first major action taken by the new government was to formally appeal to the Prime Minister to resume talks with the MNF. The SFs’ operations against the MNF were suspended. Unfortunately, Laldenga returned to New Delhi from London on October 29, 1984, a day before the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the talks could not be resumed for many months.

The insurgency in Punjab came so sharply into focus during Rajiv Gandhi’s first year as Prime Minister, that the Mizo insurgency was inevitably accorded a relatively low priority. For Lalthanhawla and his Congress Party in Mizoram, however, any delay in the resumption of negotiations meant a serious embarrassment with his electorate. He and his party men kept in constant touch with Laldenga in New Delhi and jointly worked out a scheme of settlement that would be acceptable to the Government of India. He was most ably assisted by his Chief Secretary, Lalkhama, an officer of the Indian Admministrative Service. The talks were resumed in the middle of 1985, and a Memorandum of Settlement was signed by Laldenga, Lalkhama, and the Indian Home Secretary, R.D. Pradhan, on June 30, 1986. [28] For the purpose of implementing the terms and conditions of this Memorandum, an agreement specifying the sequence of events that were to follow was also signed the same day. 

This Agreement finally brought the insurgency in Mizoram to an end after almost 20 years of strife. A wide variety of initiatives, military, political and economic, forged this eventual settlement. But if there were a single element that was to be identified as the most significant factor in the resolution of the conflict in this State, it would certainly be Indira Gandhi’s, integrative vision – despite the fact that the settlement eventually took place almost two years after her death. It may surprise many that Indira Gandhi sought to bring peace to Mizoram at a time when she was widely accused of destabilising settled governments in a number of other States – particularly Punjab and Assam. Whatever the reasons, this is, nevertheless, true, and with nearly five decades of insurgency and terrorism in various theatres, it remains a fact that Mizoram, with Punjab, is still among the rare examples of a terrorist movement on Indian soil being brought to a satisfactory end.





Text of the July 1976 Accord between the Government of India and the Mizo national Front:

1.        A delegation of underground MNF party led by Shri Laldenga and comprising of Shri Tlangchhuaka, Shri Chawngzuala and Shri Biakchhunga held discussions with Shri S.L. Khurana, Home Secretary, Shri S.K. Chibber, Lieutenant Governor of Mizoram, and Shri M.L. Kampani, Joint Secretary (North East) representing the Government of India at New Delhi on 11th, 13th, 16th, 17th and 18th February, 1976.

2.        The delegation acknowledged that Mizoram is an integral part of India and conveyed to the Government of India their decision to accept the settlement of the problem in Mizoram within the framework of the Contitution of India.  For the purpose of enabling the delegation to obtain a clear mandate and to get full authority to make an early and final settlement, the Government of India agreed to give facilities to the members of the delegation to hold a meeting with the 25 persons from Mizoram, whose names have been given by the delegation, at Calcutta during the second week of March, 1976.

3.        On behalf of the Government of India it was also agreed to make arrangements for consultation with five underground persons, presently under custody, out of a list of seven given by the delegation.

4.        In order to avoid any untoward incidents and to bring about peaceful conditions in Mizoram at the earliest, the delegation agreed to take the following steps forthwith:

(a)       To issue instructions and secure stoppage of all activities by their followers.

(b)       Collection of all underground personnel with their arms and ammunition inside mutually agreed camps and to ensure the safe custody of arms and ammunition at a suitable place within each camp.

(c)       Thereafter no underground personnel would leave the camps without permission and/or with arms.

(d)       The arms and ammunition so collected would be handed over to the Government within one month of the meeting at Calcutta referred to in para 2 above.

5.        On behalf of the Government of India it was agreed to extend necessary facilities for collection of all underground personnel at the selected camps and also give suitable subsidy to help maintain these camps.  Suitable amenities in the form of medical aid and recreation will be provided.  Adequate arrangements will be made by the Mizoram Government to look after these camps and provide liaison machinery.

6.        On behalf of the Government of India it was agreed to continue suspension of operations by the Security Forces.  Suspension of operations will, however, not apply to operations in coming against outgoing underground personnel to/from Mizoram or those attempting to cross the International border, and the maintenance of normal law and order will continue.  It was also agreed that formal announcement regarding the suspension of operations would be made after the underground have taken suitable measures to stop all activities on their side.

7.        The delegation undertook to establish contact with the group of underground personnel led by Biakvela and bring them along with arms and ammunition held by them, in consultation with the Mizoram Government, to a camp to be set up for them.

8.        Further talks will be held during the third week of March, 1976.




Text of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of India and the Mizo National Front signed at New Delhi on June 30,1986:




1.        Government of India have all along been making earnest efforts to bring about an end to the disturbed conditions in Mizoram and to restore peace and harmony.

2.        Toward this end, initiative was taken by the late Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi. On the acceptance by Shri Laldenga of behalf of the Mizo National Front (MNF) of the two conditions, namely, cessation of violence by MNF and holding of talks within the framework of the Constitution of India, a series of discussions were held with Shri Laldenga.  Settlement on various issues reached during the course of the talks is incorporated in the following paragraphs.




3.1      With a view to restoring peace and normalcy in Mizoram, the MNF party, on their part, undertake within the agreed time-frame, to take all necessary steps to end all underground activities, to bring out all underground personnel of the MNF with their arms, ammunition and equipment to ensure their return to civil life, to abjure violence and generally to help in the process of retoration of normalcy.  The modalities of bringing out all underground personnel and the deposit of arms, ammunition and equipment will be as worked out.  The implementation of the foregoing will be under the supervision of the Central Government.

3.2      The MNF party will take immediate steps to amend its Articles of Association so as to make them conform to the provisions of law.

3.3      The Central Government will take steps for the resettlement and rehabilitation of underground MNF personnel coming overground after considering the schemes proposed in this regard by the Government of Mizoram.

3.4      The MNF undertakes not to extend any support to Tripura Tribal National Volunteers (TNV), People's Liberation Army of Manipur (PLA) and any other such groups, by way of training, supply of arms or providing protection or in any other manner.




4.1      With a view to satisfy the desires and aspirations of all sections of the people of Mizoram, the Government will initiate measures to confer Statehood on the Union Territory of Mizoram, subject to the other stipulations contained in this Memorandum of Settlement.

4.2      To give effect to the above, the necessary legislative and administrative measures will be undertaken, including those for the enactment of Bills for the amendment of the Constitution and other laws for the confernment of Statehood as aforesaid, to come into effect on a date to be notified by the Central Government.

4.3      The amendments aforesaid shall provide, among other things, for the following:-

(I)        The territory of Mizoram shall consist of the territory specified in Section 6 of the North Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971.

(II)      Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect to

(a)       religious or social practices of the Mizos,

(b)       Mizo customary law or procedure,

(c)       administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to the Mizo customary law,

(d)       ownership and transfer of land,

shall apply to the State of Mizoram unless the Legislative Assembly of Mizoram by a resolution so decides;

Provided that nothing in this clause shall apply to any Central Act in force in Mizoram immediately before the appointed day.

(III)     Article 170 Clause (1) of the Constitution shall, in relation to the Legislative Assembly of Mizoram, have effect as if for the word ‘sixty’, the word ‘forty’ has been substituted.


5. Soon after the Bill for confernment of Statehood becomes law, and when the President is satisfied that normalcy has returned and conditions conducive to the holding of free and fair elections exist, the process of holding elections to the Legislative Assembly will be initiated.

6          (a)     The Centre will transfer resources to the new government keeping in view the change in status from a Union Territory to a State and this will include resources to cover the revenue gap for the year.

(b)       Central assistance for Plan will be fixed taking note of any residuary gap in resources so as to sustain the approved Plan outlay and the pattern of assistance will be as in the case of special category States.

7.        Border trade in locally produced or grown agricultural commodities could be allowed under a scheme to be formulated by the Central Government, subject to international arrangements with neighbouring countries.

8.        The Inner Line Regulations, as now in force in Mizoram, will not be amended or repealed without consulting the State Government.




9.     The rights and privileges of the minorities in Mizoram, as envisaged in the constitution, shall continue to be preserved and protected and their social and economic advancement shall be ensured.

10.    Steps will be taken by the Government of Mizoram at the earliest to review and codify the existing customs, practices, laws or other usages relating to the matters specifies in clauses (a) to (d) of para 4.3 (II) of the Memorandum, keeping in view that an individual Mizo may prefer to be governed by Acts of Parliament dealing with such matters and which are of general application.

11.      The question of the unification of Mizo inhabited areas of other States to form one administrative unit was raised by the MNF delegation.  It was pointed out to them, on behalf of the Government of India, that Article 3 of the Constitution of India prescribes the procedure in this regard but that the government cannot make any commitment in this regard.

12.      It was also pointed out on behalf of the Government that as soon as Mizoram becomes a State,

(I)        the provisions of part XVII of the Constitution will apply and the State will be at liberty to adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the State as the language to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the State;

(II)      it is open to the State to move for the establishment of a separate university in the State in accordance with the prescribed procedure;

(III)     in the light of the Prime Minister's statement at the Joint Conference of the Chief Justices, Chief Ministers, and Law Ministers held at New Delhi on 31st August, 1985, Mizoram will be entitled to have a High Court of its own, if it so wishes.

13.    (a)     It was noted that there is already a scheme in force for payment of ex-gratia amount to heirs/dependents or persons who were killed during the disturbances in 1966 and thereafter in the Union Territory of Mizoram.  Arrangements will be made to expeditously disburse payment to those eligible persons who had already applied but who had not been made such payments so far.

(b)    It was noted that consequent on verification done by a joint team of officers, the Government of India verification done by a joint team of officers, the Government of India had already made arrangements for payment of compensation in respect of damage to crops, buildings destroyed/damaged during the action in Mizoram; and rental charges of buildings and lands occupied by the Security Forces.  There may, however, be some claims which were preferred and verified by the verification done by a joint team of officers, the Government of India had already made arrangements for payment of compensation in respect of damage to crops, buildings destroyed/damaged during the action in Mizoram; and rental charges of buildings and lands occupied by the Security Forces.  These pending claims will be settled expeditiously.  Arrangements will also be made for payment of pending claims of rental charges for land/buildings occupied by the Security Forces.


*         V.S. Jafa serves in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and is a former Chief Secretary of Assam. He studied the Northern Ireland conflict as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford (1986‑87); as John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow and a Visiting Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1988‑89), he researched the revolutionary, ethnic and religious roots of violence, counter‑insurgency and counter‑terrorism in the context of the theory and practice of conflict resolution. He is also a Consulting Editor with  FAULTLINES.

[1]       Jafa, V.S., “Counter-insurgency Warfare: The Use and Abuse of Military Force,” Faultlines, Volume 3, ICM-Bulwark Books, pp. 79-129.

[2]       The points treated in my previous paper will not be repeated here, and a comprehensive view can be had by reading the present analysis in the context of what has already been stated there. Ibid.

[3]       R.N. Prasad, Government and Politics in Mizoram (New Delhi: Northern Book Center, 1987), p. 195.

[4]       John Vanlal Hluna, Church and Political Upheaval in Mizoram (Aizawl: Mizo History Association, 1985), pp. 111-121.

[5]       R. N. Prasad, Government and Politics in Mizoram, Ibid. pp. 209-210.

[6]       Ibid. p. 208-209.

[7]       Letter from Christian Peace Committee addressed to B.C. Carriappa, March 1, 1969. Quoted by John Vanlal Hluna, Ibid., p. 122.

[8]       Ibid. p. 122.

[9]       See Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press), pp. 563-652 for a detailed discussion on the relevance and efficacy of these approaches.

[10]      One British ICS officer, who served in the northeast in the 1940s, told me in 1986 that Indians had themselves “created the conditions for insurgency in the Northeastern hill areas by educating the Nagas and and the Lushais.” The truth is that the British were not inclined to spend too much on social development in areas that did not generate revenues. Reacting adversely to a demand for a high school in Lungleh in 1946, MacDonald, the Superintendent of Lushai Hills, wrote to Saprawnga that “I am not at all convinced that the institution of a high school at Lungleh at the expense of the plainsmen would be a good thing.  I am more inclined to believe that the time has come for the Lushais to enter the adult world where you pay for what you get.” (Aizawl Records: No. 5353 G. of February 8, 1946).

[11]       As against three hospitals (two run by the missionaries and one by the government with six doctors and 50 beds), two post offices and no telephones, and no private motor cars in 1947, there were 12 hospitals with 1,000 beds and 120 doctors, 7 telephone exchanges with 1200 telephone subscribers, 285 post offices and 4,200 motor vehicles registered in the State in 1986.

[12]      Government of Mizoram Annual Report cited in K.K. Upadhyaya, Development Problems and Prospects of Mizoram, New Delhi: Inter-India Publications, 1986, p. 23; and Annual Reports of the Mizoram Government and North Eastern Council.

[13]      North Eastern Region at a Glance, 1987, published by the North Eastern Council, Shillong.

[14]      Ibid. pp. 23-24.

[15]      Lalmachhuana, "Some Aspects of Mizoram Economy and Prospects of Development" in T. Mathew (Ed.), Tribal Economy of Northeastern Region, Gauhati: Spectrum Publications, 1981, p. 176.

[16]      K.K. Upadhyaya, op.cit., p. 10.

[17]      Ibid.

[18]      Ibid.

[19]      See Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, p. 632 for five uses to which electoral system could be used in such situations: (1) Fragment the support of one or more ethnic groups, especially a majority group, to prevent it from achieving permenent domination; (2) Induce an ethnic group, especially a majority, to behave moderately toward another group and engage in inter-ethnic bargaining; (3) Encourage the formation of multi-ethnic coalitions; (4) Preserve a measure of fluidity or multipolar balance among several groups to prevent bifurcation and the permanent exclusion of the resulting minority; and (5) Reduce the disparity between votes won and seats won, so as to reduce the possibility that a minority or plurality ethnic group can, by itself, gain a majority of seats.

[20]      Brigadier Sailo's son was a member of the Mizo National Front and served on the personal staff of Laldenga in East Pakistan for a while.

[21]      The MNA had no ideological use for the books of Mao-Tse-Tung.  They were not even reverential towards them.  The good covers of the books were used by them for binding their diaries, and the pages as toilet paper on their return jouney.

[22]      The Pakistan factor had disappeared with the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 and the MNF visits to China meant more of disillusionment with only marginal, if any, material and diplomatic assistance from that country.

[23]      Frank Kitson, Gangs and Countergangs, London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1960, p. 192.

[24]      Frank Kitson, Bunch of Five, London: Faber and Faber, 1977, p. 147.

[25]        I heard the story of Hrangi’s brother Chhuanga. In late 1975, in Rotlang near Lungsen village, the Randhawa outfit hailed a group of six insurgents as their brethren and fired and killed five of them when they came to shake hands.  One important man of the ‘special task force’, as it was called, was Vanngura whose father, Lalduhchhuanga, a Central intelligence officer, was killed by the MNA. Vanngura was rewarded with the post of an inspector of police for his gallantry and success against the hostiles.

[26]      Nirmal Nibedon, Mizoram: The Dagger Brigade, New Delhi: Lancers Publishers, 1980, pp. 208-9.

[27]      The text of the February 1976 Agreement is given in Appendix 1 of this paper.

[28]      The Text of the Memorandum of Settlement is given in Appendix 2.





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