Mizoram was earlier a district in Assam by the name “Mizo hills”. When it started agitation for statehood, its population was 1.96 lakh. Even today, the Mizoram population is 10.91 lakhs. How could a small district bully the nation to accept its separatist demand?
This region was ruled by Ahoms & then the British. But there is not a single mention of “Mizos” or “Mizoram” until the 19th & early 20th centuries. In fact, it was officially known as “Lushai Hills” until 1952.
Earlier, this region was inhabited by Reangs (Hindu) & Chakmas (Buddhist). There was no trace of any “Mizo”. What we now refer to as “Mizos” are actually a collection of distinct tribes like Lushai, Kuki, Paite & Hmar. They all came to India in the 18th century.
According to their own folklore, the original home of the “Mizo” tribes seems to be a place called Sinlung. Mizo historians themselves identified this place to be present Silung in southeast China. They established themselves in Chin hills (present-day Burma) by the 17th century.
However, there was no common “Mizo identity” among these tribes and they were warring with each other. Abducting each other and headhunting was the norm. In fact, 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. An early Mizo Christian Newspaper warned, “Hindu customs, especially Assamese customs, are something the Mizo really appreciate.” Mizos even say “If only we were born as Vai(plain Hindus)”.
The missionaries sensed the danger of Mizos adopting Hindu culture and immediately sprung into action. The result was the complete conversion of Mizos. Starting from dress, music, culture, religion, and custom, everything was discarded.
It was the Christian missionaries who first started inculcating “Mizo racial identity”. For example, 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. Even at this point, Churches were not built in the 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 the early 20th century, Mizos began shedding their traditional costumes which they themselves referred to as “primitive”. They adopted the 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. One of the stated aims of the association was to “remove every trace of pre-Christian pagan culture among the tribes”. The Christian association stressed “a common identity of all converted tribes”.
Converted tribes began to increasingly use the common, now Christian, the identity of “Mizo” as opposed to anything specific to any tribe. “Young Lushai Association” renamed itself “Young Mizo Association”. Lushai Hills were renamed “Mizo Hills”. Thus the ethnogenesis of Mizos.
During the time of Independence, A group of Mizos formed “United Mizo Freedom Organisation”. They demanded that this region be merged in Burma as opposed to 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 terrorist 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 Mizo youth escaped to East Pakistan(Bangladesh) to receive military training. The Present CM of Mizoram, Zoramthanga, was a member of this terr0rist group MNF. He himself confessed it in a media conversation.
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 the Indian army conquered Dhaka, he managed to escape narrowly. He calls it “James Bond type escape”.
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 Hindu Reangs were original inhabitants before the 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. In return,
- India gave statehood to Mizoram
- Special category status to Mizoram
- Revoked all criminal cases on MNF members and lifted the ban on MNF
In addition, Mizoram was given special privileges. No Act of Indian Parliament would be legalized in Mizoram unless the state government approves it. Then the MNF gave up militancy and became part of Indian democracy.
- In 2009, 900 houses belonging to Hindu Reang tribals were burnt down.
- In 2013, then Mizoram CM lit a candle before Durga “idol”. In protest, MNF carried out an “anti idol worshiping rally”. And a Hindu temple was bombed.
- In 2016, a school and a place of worship of Buddhist Chakmas were burnt down in Mizoram.
- In 2017, a Christian Church sect in Mizoram burnt Hindu “idols” and the Indian flag. Chakma Buddhists are classified by India as ST.
- In 2019, many “Mizo social organizations” have demanded, “complete expulsion” of Buddhist Chakmas and Hindu Bru Tribals from the state.
- In 2020, Mizoram imposed Section 144 because of a temple being constructed alongside the Tripura border.
- In 2021, Mizoram Police killed 5 Assam Police personnel due to a border dispute.