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PM Modi mentions the 1966 bombing of Mizoram: When Indira Gandhi had ordered the IAF to carry out an aerial attack in Aizawl and its aftereffects

In his Lok Sabha speech, PM Modi said: "On 5th March 1966, Congress had its Air Force attack the helpless citizens in Mizoram. Congress should answer if it was the Air Force of any other country. Were the people of Mizoram not the citizens of my country? Was their security not the responsibility of the Government of India?"

On August 10, 2023, during his no-confidence motion address in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi castigated the Congress administration led by Indira Gandhi for ordering an airstrike on Indian civilians in Aizawl, Mizoram, utilising the Indian Air Force back in 1966. Modi’s comments have reignited conversations surrounding historical grievances in Mizoram, resurfacing the painful memories of the aerial bombardment that continues to cast a shadow over the state’s past.

In his Lok Sabha speech, PM Modi said: “On 5th March 1966, Congress had its Air Force attack the helpless citizens in Mizoram. Congress should answer if it was the Air Force of any other country. Were the people of Mizoram not the citizens of my country? Was their security not the responsibility of the Government of India?”

“Till today, Mizoram mourns the day of 5th March. They never tried to tend to those wounds. The Congress hid this truth from the country. Who was ruling then? Indira Gandhi,” Modi added.

The Mizoram Bombing of 1966

On March 5, 1966, in response to an insurgency led by the Mizo National Front (MNF), the Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted an airstrike on the city of Aizawl in the Mizo Hills, now known as Mizoram. The decision to bomb Aizawl was made under the directives of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It’s reported that the Mizo National Famine Front, initially established to address food shortages, evolved into the Mizo National Front, which subsequently expanded its activities to include an armed faction known as the Mizo National Army. This armed wing consisted of former soldiers from a disbanded Assam Rifles battalion.

The bombing took place on March 5, 1966, during the Mizo National Front (MNF) insurgency against the Indian government. The MNF was seeking independence for the Mizo Hills, which were then part of Assam. The Indian government responded to the insurgency by sending in the army. The MNF rebels were quickly overwhelmed, but they retreated to the hills and continued to fight. In an attempt to flush out the rebels, the Indian Air Force bombed Aizawl, the centre of the Mizo Hills district. The bombing killed an estimated 100 civilians and destroyed much of the city.

On March 2, 1966, the Mizo National Army initiated an aggressive campaign against Indian forces, successfully capturing the Aizawl treasury and armoury. Subsequently, four Indian Air Force fighter jets were employed, initially engaging in machine gun fire upon Aizawl before escalating to aerial bombing. Tragically, the bombing operation resulted in an approximate loss of 100 lives, predominantly civilians. It left a trail of destruction, decimating residences, enterprises, and government edifices. This devastating event marked a significant juncture in the Mizo insurgency, propelling the region into an extended period of turmoil and uncertainty.

Effects of The Mizoram Bombing of 1966

The bombing elicited widespread condemnation, resonating both within India and across international borders. The United Nations advocated for an impartial inquiry into the incident, a plea that was met with refusal by the Indian government. The repercussions of the bombing cast a long shadow over Mizoram. It sowed profound distrust among the Mizo populace toward the Indian government, subsequently impeding the region’s journey towards eventual statehood and causing a significant delay in its attainment.

Even in the present day, the echoes of the bombing resonate within Mizoram, serving as an enduring testament to the region’s tumultuous history. It stands as a poignant symbol, evoking feelings of anguish and resentment among the Mizo populace. The 1966 bombing of Mizoram remains a sombre episode etched in the annals of India’s past, reflecting not only the government’s forceful reactions to dissent but also the sobering toll of human suffering in times of conflict.

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