History: Indian Air Force Assault on Aizwal( Mizoram)
The Vampire used for bombing. Photo from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._7_Squadron_IAF#/media/File:No.7_Vampire.jpge
The North East region of India is one of the most beautiful parts of the nation. It consists of the states of Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram. These areas have historically along with Assam never been under the sway of the Delhi Durbar. they were independent entities and their first brush with foreigners were the English. They occupied these areas and incorporated them into their empire as part of India. this was the first tenuous link with India.
The British were, very clever and they allowed missionaries to enter this region and in a short time the entire population of Mizoram, Nagaland along with Meghalaya became Christian. They were also not keen on their integration with Indian main stream politics and rule and thus worked out ingenious devices to keep these people apart from the rest of India. One of the methods was the introduction of a "inner line Permit". This was a permit which had to be issued to a visitor by the local district authority to enter these areas. this effectively insulated these areas from the rest of India.
The Revolt in the East
After the British left in 1947, logically Nehru should have abolished these permits and allowed a free flow of settlers to develop these areas. unfortunately, he did nothing and the old system continued. The Tribals who are the main inhabitants of this region accepted the British as rulers but were not ready to accept Indians from Delhi as rulers. They started an insurrection, demanding secession from India. The Naga revolt was launched in 1955 and shortly after Mizoram was aflame with the Mizo National Front leading the demand for independence and secession from India. These insurgent groups received arms and help from China and the then East Pakistan.
Nehru died in 1964. He did not take any concrete steps to integrate these areas with India. In addition, he did not allow the army to act in a ruthless manner. He thought he will be able to bring these tribals into the Indian fold by persuasion and discussion. These were noble sentiments but were not reciprocated by the tribal groups who were now heavily armed.
After the death of Nehru, the policy of neglect of these areas continued. During this time, the Indian army was given a thrashing by China in 1962 and this acted as a great morale boost for the rebels who intensified their activity. In 1965 end, entire Mizoram was in flames. There were hardly any troops in Aizwal, the capital of Mizoram. the Mizo National Front occupied the entire city and proclaimed de facto Independence. Lal Bahadur Shastri was taken back and he consulted the Air Chief, Air Marshal Arjan Singh, and General Choudhry. He was advised that the only way to dislodge the rebels from Aizwal was an airstrike.
It is to the credit of Shastri, that he gave his agreement for an air assault on Aizwal. This is a historical moment in the history of independent India and is the only single time that air power has been used against local insurgents. It had a telling effect.
Bombing of Aizwal
Orders were immediately issued to the Commander in Chief, Eastern Air Command to mount the air attack. The plan was worked out and two flights of the Vampire Jet fighter-bombers took off from Jorhat to bomb the rebel lines in Aizwal. The use of these fighter-bombers unnerved the rebels who were bombed by the vampire jets. These planes were subsonic, but lethal and were also used by the Royal Air Force.
The bombing by air had an effect and the rebels who suffered casualties retreated into the jungles. In the meantime , a column of the Indian army also reached Aizwal and Indian rule and order was restored.
The use of the IAF was a master stroke and in this Shastri, though a short stature man, showed he had nerves of steel. Tt was a bold decision and brought out the potency of air power. It's sad that this has been the only occasion that an air bombing has been done against local rebel groups.
One wishes that the Indian government uses air power against the Mujaheddin in Kashmir and the Maoists. There will be collateral damage, but that should be treated as part of the game. The Mizo bombing is not publicized for reasons known to the government. But now with Modi at the helm, a fresh thought process is required
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