On Thursday night (July 29), prominent Indologist ‘Bharadwaj Speaks’ was forced to deactivate his Twitter account after receiving legal threats over a Twitter thread on Assam-Mizoram controversy. ‘Bharadwaj Speaks’, who earlier went by the username of True Indology, took to Twitter to speak about the violent clash between the locals of Lailapur village (Cachar district) in Assam and Vairengte village (Kolasib district) in Mizoram, and posted some historical facts about Mizoram. After the tweet thread, former Mizoram governor and former adviser or Mizo National Front Swaraj Kaushal threatened to file FIR against him, following which Bharadwaj deactivated his Twitter account.
He had written, “To be sure, Assam is not the only state Mizoram is at loggerheads with. Mizoram also has conflicts with other states on its border. Last year, Mizoram targeted a village on Tripura border because Hindus of the village planned to construct Shiva temple. For Mizoram, which does not celebrate “International Yoga Day” because Church considers Yoga “anti Christian”, building a Hindu temple was too much. Mizoram Government imposed section 144 because “a Hindu temple would disturb peace and tranquility”.
The Indologist pointed out that Mizoram was once a district in Assam by the name of ‘Mizo Hills’ before it was carved out as a separate State. Back then, it had a population of 1.96 lac people which has now increased to 10.91 lacs. “This region was ruled by Ahoms & then British. But there is not a SINGLE mention of “Mizos” or “Mizoram” until 19th & early 20th century. In-fact, it was officially known as “Lushai Hills” until 1952. Who are the “Mizos”? Earlier, this region was inhabited by Reangs (Hindu) & Chakmas (Buddhist).There was no trace of any “Mizo”. Who we now refer to as “Mizos” are actually a collection of distinct tribes like Lushai, Kuki, Paite & Hmar. They all came to India in 18th century,” he emphasised.
Bharadwaj Speaks discussed in detail about the emergence of ‘Mizo racial identity’
According to Bharadwaj Speaks, the ‘Mizo’ tribes were natives of Sinlung in South-East China. He said, “They established themselves in Chin hills (present day Burma) by 17th century. However, there was no common “Mizo identity” among these tribes and they were warring with each other. Abducting each other and head hunting was the norm. Infact, the earliest known picture of any Mizo was that of a Lushai woman captured by a Southern tribe called Mara. When the Mizo tribes first encountered the Hindus of Assam,their feeling was of admiration.”
He emphasised that the Mizo tribes were influenced by plain Hindus (vai). And the Christian missionaries were wary of the growing influence. As such, the evangelists forced the complete boycott of traditional Mizo dress, music, culture, religion and customs. The missionaries first conceived the idea of inculcating a distinct ‘Mizo racial identity.’ “The Baptist church wrote that “the ethnicities of Lushei,Kuki & Chin can be classified as one race. They are sturdy hill warriors unlike the effeminate Assamese and Bengali.” Soon enough, the traditional Mizo animist temples were converted to Churches,” he noted.
Bharadwaj Speaks further remarked, “Even at this point, Churches were not built in Christian style. They were still the old thatched huts with the traditional drum hanging out. Drum had great significance in Pre Christian Mizo religion. By early 20th century, Mizos began shedding their traditional costumes which they themselves referred to as “primitive”. They adopted western style, costume, religion & script. Bands of Mizos children raised up in Churches began touring all over India to sing Christian choirs. The new Lushai tribe converts formed a “Young Lushai Association” in 1935.”
As per the Indologist, one of the primary objectives of the association was to remove pre-Christian pagan culture from the tribes. The Association called for a ‘common identity’ for all converted tribes. Thus, the blanket identity of ‘Mizo’ became commonplace as opposed to any specific tribe. Soon after, the ‘Young Lushai Association’ changed to ‘Young Mizo Association’ and ‘Lushai Hills’ was renamed to ‘Mizo Hills’. Another group named ‘United Mizo Freedom Organisation’ (UMFO) was formed at the time of Indpendence to call for merger with Burma instead of India.
“They claimed that they were ethnically closer to Burmese Chin than Hindus. When their demands of separate nationhood were ignored, Mizo separatists formed a terr0rist organization named Mizo National Front (MNF) in 1966. Their aim was to “kick India out of Mizoram through violent means if necessary”. They began killing Assamese, Hindus & Army Men. MNF then received funding and training from Pakistan’s ISI. Many of Mizo youth escaped to East Pakistan(Bangladesh) to receive military training. The Present CM of Mizoram, Zoramthanga, was a member of this terrorist group MNF. He himself confessed it in a media conversation,” Bharadwaj Speaks added.
Zoramthanga was a member of terrorist group MNF: Bharadwaj Speaks
He informed, “When India defeated Pakistan in 1971, Mizo CM was hiding in Pakistan along with his comrades. He was involved with an MNF unit named “Joshua”. It was named after the Biblical commander Joshua who defeated, killed Pagan Canaanites and ended their Pagan kingdom in Israel. Here, as Mizoram CM himself confesses in his interview, he was in Islamabad until 1975 as part of ISI training to MNF. When Indian army conquered Dhaka, he managed to escape narrowly. He calls it “James Bond type escape.”
Bharadwaj Speaks added, “During the Mizoram insurgency, Hindus were targeted. Violence was unleashed on Hindus and 34,000 Hindu Reang(Bru) were kicked out of Mizoram. They are still living in refugee tents of Tripura. The Hindus Reangs were original inhabitants before Mizo migration. However, they were ruthlessly targeted. “Quit Mizoram” notices with deadlines were posted in Reang villages. “Mizoram is for Mizos only” said Pu Laldenga. He later became Mizoram CM. Mizo insurgency lasted for 2 decades. The MNF finally gave up militancy when they signed Mizoram peace Accord in 1986.”
While highlighting how Mizoram became a part of India, he pointed out, “In return, India gave statehood to Mizoram, and Special category status to Mizoram. India also revoked all criminal cases on MNF members and lifted ban on MNF. In addition, Mizoram was given special privilege. No Act of Indian Parliament would be legalised in Mizoram unless the state government approves it. Then the MNF gave up militancy and became part of Indian democracy. Also, Mizoram is accorded special and disproportionate share of Budget. These were the doles given out to MNF and they agreed to sign Mizo accord.”
‘Governor Swaraj’ threatens Bharadwaj Speaks with legal action
Swaraj Kaushal, the former Governor of Mizoram and the husband of late Sushma Swaraj, warned of impending legal consequences for such a writeup. “Probably you know the consequences of what you are writing. One FIR and you will spend many years of your life facing trial. Think again,” he cautioned.
He further added, “Somebody is spreading hatred against the Mizos. It is an offence to create disaffection against an ethnic group. A police officer in Aizwal will register an FIR. He can ignore my advice and do what he pleases.”
Following the controversy, ‘Bharadwaj Speaks’ clarified that it was only a historical examination of the ongoing conflict and that he did not intend to slander Zoramthanga and Mizos. Prior to deleting his Twitter thread and account, he said, “Mizos are as much Indian citizens as anyone else. Personally, all I want is peace, tranquility & progress in Mizoram. I condemn racism against Mizos.”
This caused massive outrage on Twitter, with social media users slamming the former governor for misusing his power to scuttle freedom of expression. However, Mr Kaushal stood his ground, maintaining that the tweets by Bharadwaj have offended the people of Mizoram.
Swaraj Kaushal claimed that the tweets by Bharadwaj can jeopardise the peace in Mizoram which is the result of the Mizoram Peace Accord. Claiming that he has his entire life for the peace accord, he implied that Mizos will now return to violence because of the tweets. When people countered why the history can’t be told, he was adamant, saying that ‘no Mizo will ever listen to anything of the kind that was written’.
Today he posted more tweets claiming that while he is an expert in Mizo issues, Bharadwaj does not know anything about it. He ended his long rant in two days saying that he is putting Bharadwaj Speaks on legal notice. This means, he is taking legal action against a person for repeating history just because he thinks it will break the peace accord in Mizoram.