The shock, awe — and sound of jackboots marching in Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir, Bifurcation, Kashmir, Jammu, Rajya Sabha, Bill, Ladakh, the federal, english news website
Image: Prathap Ravishankar

Zodingliani, 35, grew up listening to horror stories of the 1960s in Aizawl, the capital of now picture-perfect state of Mizoram. Stories told by scarred souls, ageing relatives, of lost parents, orphaned children, burnt limbs and rice fields, of screaming jet fighters raining bullets and bombs, gutting hopes and homes.

Back in 1966, the Indian government, in its bid to quell a rebellion by the Mizo National Army (MNA) for independence from India in the Mizo Hills district of Assam, bombed Aizawl for over a week, killing civilians and burning the city into ashes. The bombing of its own civilians — which is now known as the first and only time the IAF was used to attack its own countrymen — however, didn't succeed to repress the armed struggle even though it managed to send the MNA soldiers packing to nearby hills and forests, some to Burma and the then East Pakistan. It instead led to a full-blown insurgency that went on for two more decades.

The stories of panicked civilians fleeing to forest cover to survive a brute government and its subsequent uprooting of Mizos that started in 1967 — by burning down villages and regrouping the villagers in government camps — still strike a discernible 'shock and awe' among old-timers in this scarred land.

Thousands of kilometres away from Aizawl, many young women of Zodingliani's age and their familes in Kashmir today find themselves surrounded by a similar 'shock and awe' tactic and thousands of marching troops into the Valley.

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