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Mizoram Bombing, ‘Haunting’ Radio Msg, Lohia’s Charge: When PM Reminded Cong of its ‘Betrayals’ in NE – News18

An archival shot of the Mizoram bombings of March 1966. (Image: @
DreamHEAD STUDIO/Twitter)

Amid big talking points in his response to the opposition’s no-confidence motion, what may skip public notice is how PM Narendra Modi mentioned three specific, lesser-known instances of atrocities in the northeast under Congress rule

In his response to the motion of no-confidence, which lasted two hours and 13 minutes surpassing his 2018 record of one hour and 31 minutes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried many new things – coined the phrase ‘Congress no confidence’ and gave a rebuttal to Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Mata ki hatya’ barb by calling the nation ‘Maa Bharti’.

Amid big talking points, however, what is likely to skip the public’s attention is how the prime minister highlighted three specific, lesser-known instances of atrocities perpetrated in the northeast under the Congress rule.

March 5, 1966: ‘Mizoram unable to forget…’

The Congress government allegedly ordered strikes by the Indian Air Force in Mizoram on March 5, 1966. It was preceded by a revolt against the central government from the Mizo National Front.

Four days before the strike, the front – now the ruling party in the state – had made a declaration of independence. But historians say it was a forced revolt against the Centre’s abject failure to deal with the 1959 famine in the Mizo area of Assam.

But the then Congress government chose to bomb its own people using its own air force, which is not even considered against Maoists. “Let the Congress answer: were they an air force of a different nation? Were the residents of Mizoram not our countrymen? Wasn’t their security the responsibility of the Government of India? On March 5, 1966, the air force was deployed to attack innocent civilians. Honourable speaker, even today, the entire Mizoram grieves on March 5. Mizoram is unable to forget that pain. But they (Congress) never even tried to heal those wounds,” said an emotional prime minister on the floor of Lok Sabha.

Indira Gandhi was the PM back then. Modi said the Congress hid this reality from India, alleging that the 1984 attack on the Akal Takht in Amritsar was a result of “aadat” (habit) after Mizoram.

November 20, 1962: ‘Nehru left them to their fate’

After narrating the Mizoram tale, Prime Minister Modi rewound the clock to the 1962 Indo-China conflict when the Congress-ruled Centre “abdicated” its duty. “During 1962, that haunting radio streaming pinches the people of the northeast to date. In 1962, when the nation was under attack and the countrymen were hoping for security… when people were getting ready to fight… during such a time, the only big leader was Pandit (Jawaharlal) Nehru. What did he say on the radio? He said: ‘My heart goes out to the people of Assam’. That was the state of affairs. That (radio) streaming still pinches the people of Assam,” he said as there was pin-drop silence, adding, “during that time, Nehru left them to their fate and now they are asking us questions?”

News18 has found that the speech was broadcast live on All India Radio on November 20, 1962. Nehru’s exact words were: “My heart goes out to the people of Assam at this hour.” This is largely seen as Nehru having “abandoned” the people of Assam to the mercy of the intruding Chinese into Bomdila in the then North East Frontier Agency (NEFA).

Nehru had viewed China as a “friendly” country but was taken aback at China’s incursion given that the neighbouring country called itself “anti-imperialist”. A shocked and rather betrayed Nehru made that radio speech that night.

‘Northeast deliberately deprived of development’

The PM’s third charge was not a date but a comment by socialist freedom fighter Ram Manohar Lohia against Nehru. Modi uttered the exact words of Lohia for “deliberately” neglecting the northeast. “Lohia ji made a very serious allegation against Nehru ji. His allegation was: ‘Nehru Ji deliberately is not developing the northeast’. He was deliberately not doing that.” He continued to quote Lohia, who had said: “How irresponsible and dangerous it is to lock an area more than 30,000 square miles and deprive it of all kinds of developments.”

The PM contrasted it with the fact that his council of ministers make hundreds of trips to the northeast, not just to the state but even to district headquarters. “I have been there 50 times. This is not just data, this is a practice. This is dedication towards the northeast,” he said while alleging that the Congress outlook towards the region is guided by its electoral considerations.

“Hamare liye northeast jigar ka tukda hai (for us, the northeast is a piece of my heart),” he claimed, while alleging that the problems of Manipur have a history. “If there is any mother for the problems of the northeast, it’s the Congress party,” he added.

Modi reminded of the legacy of militancy in Manipur, in particular, and the region as well. From not allowing Mahatma Gandhi’s photos in government offices to bombing Iskcon temple in Aizawl – the PM did not shy away from reminding the people that it was the Congress that was in power in Manipur during those times.

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