GROUPING OF VILLAGES IN MIZORAM
Lest we forget
For Zoram Ni
Mizoram was hard hit by a famine soon after the region was admitted into the Indian Union. The unsatisfactory remedial measures from Assam government resulted in a political disturbance that tormented the hills for about two decades spearheaded by the Mizo Famine Front, later transformed into a political unit called Mizo National Front (MNF). In February 1966 the MNF intensified its activities and the party decided to start an armed revolt. The attack on the Aizawl Treasury began at midnight on 28th February, 1966 and the Lungleh Treasury was also attacked on the same day. Simultaneously the outposts of Lungleh, Tlabung, Champhai and Kolasib were attacked and captured whereas Aizawl was held out by the Ist Battalion Assam Rifles. When the Government of India learnt of the outbreak, troops were sent to the area. By an Extra-ordinary Gazette Notification Published on 6th March, 1966, the Government of India declared the Mizo National Front an Unlawful Organization. Being satisfied that the MNF had been indulging in activities prejudicial to the security of Mizo District in the State of Assam and the adjoining part of the territory of India, the Central Government by effecting the necessary amendment of the rules ordered that Rule 32 of the Defence of India Rules, 1962 shall be applicable to the Mizo National Front.
The Defence Of India (Amended) Rule 32 of 1962
Rule 32 of the Defence of India Rules, 1962 as amended provides that no person shall-
a) manage or assist in managing any organization to which this rule applies. b) promote or assist in promoting a meeting of any member of such an organization or attend any such meeting in capacity. c) publish any notice or advertisement relating to any such meeting. d) invite persons to support such an organization or otherwise assist the operation of such an organization.
If any person contravenes any of the provisions of this rule, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 7 years or with fine or with both.
The Mizo District was subsequently declared ‘a disturbed area’ under the Assam Disturbed Area Act, 1955. The Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Power Act, 1958 was also applied to the area by which the Government of India, under Article 352 of the Constitution, entrusted the responsibility of law and order in Mizoram to the Army and issued a strict instruction that the Army was to function as in war time but strictly in aid of the civil power. The matter was also discussed in the Parliament. Home Minister G.L Nanda made a statement in Parliament on March 3, 1966 saying, “the total number who took part in all those places- Lungleh, Aijal, Eayrengte (Vairengte), Chawngte and Chimluang (Chhimluang) who resorted to acts of lawlessness and violence were 800 to 1300 tribals… As a result of this, the army has been asked to deal with situation in Mizo Hills District. Transport of troops to Aijal by helicopters has been going on this morning and troops are also moving by road to Aijal and expected to reach by noon today.”
Grouping of Villages
Lt. General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw, GOC-In-C, Eastern Command, Calcutta, recommended grouping of villages to facilitate effective military operations. The Governor of Assam, B.K.Nehru, opposed the idea and the Central Cabinet rejected the army proposal of grouping on October 20, 1966. The army lobbied for its case during the next few weeks and the scheme was finally cleared by the Government of India on December 5, 1966. In its 6 P.M news broadcast on January 3, 1967, the All India Radio announced the decision of the Government to group villages in Mizo Hills for security reasons. Lt. General Manekshaw and A.N.Kidwai, Chief Secretary, Assam...