Thursday, May 27, 2010

MIZORAM – A Saga of Secession, Violence and Re-Integration.

After gaining Independence, India had become a unified nation but to sustain this great achievement was going to be a massive political challenge for the times to come. The Congress party under whose leadership the people all over India were united in the struggle against the British Empire now had a more cumbersome task of making them live amongst each other as citizens of a common nation. Soon when the political & administrative necessity of dividing the Indian Union into several states came to the fore, the criteria of division was based on Languages under the pressure of linguistic political groups that were agitating all across India.

The then Indian Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru acceded to these agitators and the much needed crack down on these groups was not executed owing to one of his many eccentric idealisms. Thus this weak political will mired by an inept leadership led to the division of India on linguistic lines which further led to the opening up of a Pandora’s Box of identity politics and the birth of secessionist tendencies in several parts of the country for decades to come.

Such is the impact that whenever the word ‘Secessionist’ comes, the first thought that comes to an Indian mind is that of separatist movements in Kashmir or Assam or Manipur .However yet very few of them are aware that the modern day Indian state of Mizoram once upon a time not only started a secessionist movement but also went a leap ahead in declaring it’s full Independence from India. This event which still isn’t much known was nothing short of a Civil War that our country had to fight through.

Historically the region of Mizoram had such topographical distinctiveness in from of the Mizo hills and thick forests that it always supported distinct cultural traits which were different from that of people of other areas living around them. However after 1956 Mizoram along with many other present day north-eastern states were integrated as a part of the Greater Indian state of Assam. Since Language was the criteria for dividing the federation the ‘thought’ among several linguistically different sub-regions of Assam to become separate Indian states by virtue of that very same criteria began to gain ground.

Mizoram transformed this thought into action by swiftly forming a Mizo Cultural Society in 1959 for preserving their identity from the rest of the nation. A year later a severe famine hit Mizoram which led to a deep crisis in this desolate region. The effort to alleviate this problem by the State Government of Assam was seen as inadequate and there was a widespread protest against the government authorities everywhere. The subsequent crackdown by police to control the protests further aggravated their dissatisfaction.

Meanwhile the members of the Mizo Cultural Society decided to reorganize themselves into a separate entity called as the ‘Mizo National Famine Front’ for providing voluntary services for famine relief within the region. As soon as the dark clouds of Famine had scattered away from the horizons of Mizoram these members decided to transform a famine relief organization into a political organization known now as the ‘Mizo National Front (MNF)’ under the leadership of a Mizo ethnic extremist known as Laldenga (he was a former district council in Mizoram). Laldenga along with his clique were about to transgress into the realms of over ambition as they decided to use ‘Identity politics’ and ‘Public Dissatisfaction against the State Government’ as political instruments to realize their nefarious designs of complete secession from the Indian Federation.

Meanwhile the Assamese State Government of Congress party instead of checking this upcoming threat decided to appease them in order to counter their local political rivals in the same region known as the Mizo Union. Seeing this the MNF grew bolder in it’s audacity as it now openly called for the formation of a separate independent nation called as 'Greater Mizoram' across the whole North-Eastern region.

In addition of taking advantage of the Government’s shortcomings and a sense of cultural pride among Mizos , the MNF decided to accentuate the muddle of separatism even murkier as they now concocted an imaginary threat of the Hindu Cultural elements to the inhabitants of Mizoram who were in a Christian majority. The Communal angle was soon going to be complimented by their hidden agreements with the Pakistani authorities in the East-Pakistan (now Bangladesh) for giving armed and financial support to MNF in their struggle against India.

The State Government which was slowly waking up from their deep slumber saw matters going out of proportions and hence immediately ordered to mobilize an additional battalion of Assam Rifles to help in tackling the grave situation. Seeing this the MNF got its excuse of rebellion and on 1st March 1966 it officially declared a total political Independence from India and their armed militia geared up for armed resistance against the security forces of India.

Immediately the Government treasury was looted and several important administrative institutions were violently taken over by MNF’s cadres. The Mizo militia then attacked the heavily outnumbered local security forces that were brutally killed in cold blood everywhere. It was soon evident that most of Mizoram was in the control of MNF and it practically had been separated from India as the only flags fluttering over there were that of MNF.

Mrs. Indira Gandhi who now headed the Central Government stood shocked by such developments and decided to take the drastic action on 6th March 1966 by declaring this uprising as an unlawful act against the Indian Union. The Government immediately moved the Indian army into the region. Now the challenge before the army was to quell an armed rebellion of MNF which enjoyed mass public support along with the advantage of fighting on home terrain. Hence the army decided to operate in such a manner that the MNF becomes isolated from the Mizo civilian population.

With the political will behind them the army followed a ruthless policy of eliminating all the MNF militants and also to execute all those civilians who were actively aiding the violent separatist struggle. As the army had special directives for operations the standard procedure were replaced by emergency procedures while carrying on investigation and punishment of those who were caught red handed. Besides the villages that were openly supporting separation from India also had to face severe consequences from the administrative authorities who were beginning to resume their work in those regions. There were also controversial reports claiming that Indian Air Force bombarded the region infested with the militants in and around the Mizo cities such as Aizwal which caused a lot of damage to the civilian property, however the Government and the Air Force have dismissed such reports.

The compact geographical extent of Mizoram witnessing the battle compounded the collateral damage as many villages and innocent civilians became its prey. Although the Indian Army’s retaliation created waves of fear that rippled in the psyche of Mizo population but their anger began to vent out against the MNF. They felt that MNF’s immature and trigger happy initiation of a violent movement against the nation resulted in an equally opposite reciprocation by the Indian State. Their concocted propaganda against India and misguiding of the Mizos on ill conceived political planks were the subsequent cause of Indian army’s wrath on them.

Thus in the advent of loosing the popular support and simultaneously being annihilated by the might of Indian Army there began to grow divisions among the Mizo Leadership itself. They were beginning to understand that the idea of a separate Mizo nation was not feasible and its peaceful coexistence by being the part of the Indian Union was the only way for its peace and progress. The fundamentalist elements within the MNF quickly became a minority and the rest of them began peace talks with the Indian government. Soon the entire region of Mizoram was Re-integrated into the Indian Union which then subsequently was recognized by Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s government in 1972 as a Union Territory.

Thus the civil war was ended and the Indian Union was preserved. However the problem was far from being over as dormant voices of Mizo came up from time to time only to be quelled by Indian government’s diplomatic or limited military efforts. Today the state of Mizoram is quite peaceful as compared to its surrounding neighbor states however the violent struggle in 60’s was contagious enough to spark of similar ethnic separatist tendencies in the entire North-East region. However the problem could have been more catastrophic which was fortunately averted owing to the chivalry and resolve of the Indian Army backed by the decisive political will of Mrs. Indira Gandhi.

© 2010 Neelabh Chaturvedi .All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

VIETNAM – A David who vanquished the Two Goliaths. (Part I)

The blog of The Iron Will proudly presents a story of a nation whose resolve for gaining political freedom is very much remnant of the term Iron Will itself .Yes this is the story of the proud nation of Vietnam and it’s people who exemplified the greatest courage and patriotism in defeating the armies of two of the strongest nations of the time namely USA and France against whom many other nations would even shudder to think of fighting.

The armies of these two Great nations were famous for striking ‘Shock and Awe’ in the hearts and mind of their enemies but in Vietnam the tables were about to turn as it was the time when a people who mostly peasants by occupation were about to strike some ‘Shock and Awe’ in return to their formidable foes who had unjustly occupied their nation.

The land of Vietnam was part of the colonial empire of France called the Indo-China located in South-East Asia .During the Second World War the colony was occupied by the armies of Japan however after the defeat of Japan in 1945 the circumstances took a drastic turn .

Owing to the subsequent Political Vacuum being created the liberation army of Vietnam called as the ‘Viet Minh’ decided to take the control over the affairs of the colony. Meanwhile the Allied nations who were deciding the fate of the world after their triumph in Second World War agreed to the reoccupation of Indo-China by the French and not only that they decided to take a joint action in ensuring that it happens in effect.

 Thus the stage was set for a wide scale confrontation between the two. Initially the French with the help of their allies were able to oust the Viet Minh from their controlled areas. However the Viet Minh soon realized that directly engaging with an enemy possessing superior firepower and military technology would lead them to an inevitable defeat. Hence the command of Viet Minh which included two of the most revered figures in Vietnam’s History – Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap decided to introduce the ever effective art of Guerilla Warfare as the central force of their army’s subsequent operations. The answer to the question of why to do so lies in the strategic intent of any sort of Guerilla warfare which is to pit the strategically weak opponent at an advantage over a strategically superior opponent.

Now having settled the agenda for future military operations Ho Chi Minh took the responsibility of political mobilization for Vietnam’s cause while General Giap was entrusted the responsibility of countering the French army. General Giap immediately moved the Viet Minh to isolated areas which were out of the range of French forces and he started mobilizing the army. Hence this marked the beginning of the First Indo-China War between France and Vietnam.
The Viet Minh then organized several Hit and Run operations where after making swift attacks on French army in the country side they again came back to their inaccessible bases in the isolated areas in order to regroup themselves for future attacks and to prevent themselves from directly engaging the strong anti-insurgent French forces who were out there to hunt them. They constantly changed their bases and their Hit and Run strategy was constantly hassling the organized structure and psyche of the French forces. The French who were feeling the heat decided to conduct intense anti-insurgency operations in which they initially received huge successes.
However despite that the Viet Minh continued to grow stronger as it drew new cadres and was gaining more territorial ground day by day. By this time the Communist regimes of Soviet Union and China began to assist Viet Minh because of Ho Chi Minh’s Communist inclinations, meanwhile the French were preparing a parallel Vietnamese Leadership which was supposed to be a Democratic counter to the rising Communist Front in Indo-China.

The Confrontation between the French and Vietnam was moving towards a grand finale as the French forces who were losing ground had occupied key strategic zones that were posing direct threat to Viet Minh’s operational capability. Thus the stage of transformation in Guerilla Warfare had arrived where the Guerilla army transforms it’s strategy from Hit and Run to that of Direct Confrontation in an open pitched battle.

"The Battlefield Of Dien Bien Phu"
This transformation was seen at the focal point of the war which shifted to the strategic location controlled by the French called 'Dien Bien Phu' which was standing in the way of Viet Minh’s ambition of controlling the entire Indo-China. After eliminating the French patrols in vicinity General Giap mounted a full scale attack on this French Stronghold on 13th March 1954 which led to several days of intense combat on both the sides. The French forces did managed to hold out waves after waves of Viet Minh’s assault but due to improper reinforcement and irregular supplies the French capitulated on 7th May paving the way for the end of French rule in Indo-China. This was further on speeded up as there was a growing dissent among French citizens who wanted an immediate end of the war and the safe return of their soldiers back to their homeland.

Soon the talks at Geneva Convention of 1954 began where it was decided that Indo-China be officially broken down into four states. The States of Laos and Cambodia were separated from it while Vietnam was divided into the Communist North Vietnam headed by Ho Chi Minh and The Democratic South Vietnam headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. However the Geneva Accord promised for a referendum in form of a general election in both the states to be conducted in 1956 to decide a National Government for a United Vietnam.

The Government of South Vietnam with the active support of USA then tried to prevent this Election from taking place as they feared that Ho Chi Minh’s popularity along with Viet Minh’s success against the French would make the people in South Vietnam vote for accession to the control of the Communist North Vietnam.
The North Vietnamese government seeing such a scenario began a proxy war of raising up an insurgent group called the ‘Viet Cong’ within the borders of South Vietnam whose aim was to pursue Guerilla war against the forces of South Vietnam. Now the North Vietnamese army of Viet Minh from outside and South Vietnamese Guerilla army of Viet Cong began to work in tandem to achieve the total unification of Vietnam under the North Vietnamese leadership.
These political designs of North Vietnam were sending the alarm bells ringing for USA who by that time had assumed the role of ‘Savior’ of Democracy worldwide against the USSR which had become the ‘Promoter’ of Communism globally. Thus the Americans slowly began to come in full force for saving the Democratic South from being overrun by the Communist North.

The initial American support started from sending a handful of military advisors transformed gradually to the massive deployment of nearly half of the million soldiers and special forces in South Vietnam along with full naval and air support. Thus the escalating tensions were paving the way for another war on the soil of Vietnam which was going to be even more gruesome and devastating that would soak the land of Vietnam in rivers of blood for times to come.

So finally the ‘Poor David’ called as Vietnam after vanquishing the ‘Mighty Goliath’ called France was about to face another Goliath called USA who was even more stronger and considered Invincible by many. Thus the showdown between these two was about to spellbind the entire world as everyone eagerly watched as this epic struggle unfolded new tales of Courage, Heroism and Patriotism which became legendary for times to come and generations to see.

© 2010 Neelabh Chaturvedi .All Rights Reserved.

[ The Second Indo-China War will be shortly covered in the next post - “Vietnam - A Poor David who vanquished the Two Goliaths. (Part II) “]

Monday, May 17, 2010

DRESDEN – A Holocaust that went Unnoticed

In all the popular cultures and entertainment world the story of German and Japanese excesses during World War II are always told with great deal of flair showcasing how these Allied Nations were facing foes who were a blot on human race and were monsters in human flesh who were establishing a world order that was inherently Evil in it’s basic nature.

Little do the people at large know about the excesses of these so called Allied Nations during the course of history which can out beat the excesses of Germans and Japanese by a big margin .However as these very Allied nations are at the helm of world affairs in this Neo-Liberal world order ,most of these excesses have either been downplayed or have been erased in order to sustain their heroic image of saviors of humanity and freedom which gives them the moral right to dictate the other nations as to how they should run.

One such incidence that didn’t find it’s significance in history books was the Bombing of the German city of Dresden during World War II by allied nations which is considered in it’s factual foundations as one of the worst single event of massacre that well surpasses the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The German city of Dresden also known as Florence of North Europe was an established cultural centre for decades and was known for producing cigarettes and china. The city by February 1945 was transformed as a shelter for war torn refugees pouring from the onslaught of the Red Army of Soviet Union and it also became a centre where medical camps were organized for treatment of wounded soldiers.

The German command wary of Allied attention was already under severe pressure from two fronts of fighting and they decided to relocate their limited armed resources to the frontline cities and areas where the danger was perceived more. Hence Dresden was left with meager light defenses that were only meant for ground-to-ground assault , neither it had any effective military unit, anti-aircraft battery or any Luftwaffe ( air force ) support.

However the British Air Command by that time had come up with a concrete policy enunciated in the Casablanca Directive of 1943 as following – “progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system, and undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened”. Thus the agenda for British bombers was set based on the latter part of the directive by the likes of advisors such as Charles Portal and Arthur Harris backed by Winston Churchill the Prime minister of Great Britain who was determined to end this war quickly by yielding a devastating blow to the German psyche of resisting against all odds and to somehow beat the Soviet Union in the race for overrunning Germany.

They decided that a soft target like the city of Dresden would be perfectly suitable for this purpose because the destruction of working class groups in such a city was not only easy but it would yield a psychological blow to the German civilians to the extent that they would consider this war futile and would easily capitulate paving the way for German armed forces to capitulate soon enough. Bombing any other location would had posed the risk of counter-resistance along with lesser damage caused. Thus like having a self-conceived motive behind a cold blooded crime the British bombers along with their American friends flew over to this desolated city of Dresden whose population had swelled up to nearly 1.2 million due to a heavy influx of refugees and wounded soldiers.

The British Air Command had decided to go for ‘Area Bombing’ a concept where a large number of ‘Incendiary Bombs’ were dropped on an extensive area inhabited by civilians so that eventually a firestorm is caused when hundreds of smaller fires join in one vast conflagration. Huge masses of air are sucked in to feed the inferno, causing an artificial tornado. Those persons unlucky enough to be caught in the rush of wind are hurled down entire streets into the flames. Those who seek refuge underground often suffocate as oxygen is pulled from the air to feed the blaze, or they perish in a blast of white heat--heat intense enough to melt human flesh.

Thus the Bombing began on the night of 13th February 1945 by about 10.45 pm the entire city was up in this bizarre firestorm which began the ultimate spectacle of an orchestrated annihilation where chores of people experienced their own cremation from the great fire storm caused while they were running for their lives. A brief lull of three hours was deliberately given for the surviving civilians to come out in open for relief providing efforts for their fellow citizens and soon without any warning a second wave of even more heavy bombardment was carried on at 1.22 Am of 14th February 1945 to wipe out what they considered rats hiding in holes. The Bombing continued for 14 hours since it commenced leaving a city witnessing catastrophic destruction that would fall very nearly short to the prophesied Armageddon in Bible.

Human flesh including included bodies of women, children, elderly citizens, patients , animals etc, melted like ores melt in severely hot industrial furnaces. The underground areas became like death traps where citizens were suffocated to death. The estimated casualty rate has been always shrouded in mystery as any sort of estimation being done in presence of victorious Allied powers conscious of not loosing their humane image had lead to a serious downplay of the incidence by estimating it at around 35,000 dead leaving the wounded and burnt aside.

However neutral researches have revealed with evidences that an estimated range of 2,50,000 – 5,00,000 people died in this mass bombing. The range appears widened as there were corpses that were severely mutilated and melted making the count of dead a very difficult task. 

Soon enough Allied Propaganda was conceived that this mass level annihilation would be cited as a revenge for Rotterdam , Coventry and London bombing which in actuality were cities with military establishments during that time and the damage caused was highly miniscule as compared to Dresden Bombings. The railroads that were cited as the cause of bombings received less damage as the focus of bombing was in true sense that of annihilating the unarmed civilians.

Thus the extent of annihilation at Dresden surpassed Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing where 90,000 – 1,45,000 people died in another dastardly act of Holocaust perpetrated this time by the Americans. The event of Dresden was downplayed heavily by world media at that point of time and subsequently figures were manipulated to a large extent to make it look as an insignificant operation. The officers leading the attack were decorated with bravery awards.

Till date the popular cultures or history books of established authors never mention this Holocaust which was the worst single event of massacre because we all know that history is always written by the winners. Most of the educated class even don’t know whether such a thing took place but now gradually the truth of this brutality has began to surface out just as in Alfred Hitchcock’s movies the murdered corpse begins to surface out of the sea providing the primary evidence of a crime committed with it in the past.I sincerely believe that a day should come when countries like USA , Great Britain and their allies are made to apologize a thousand times for their excesses over the course of human history just as these very nations had forced Germany and Japan to apologize to the extent that they still are saying sorry for what their forefathers had done long before they were born.

 © 2010 Neelabh Chaturvedi .All Rights Reserved.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Inception Of 'The Iron Will'

Our Present bears the fruit of our Past and through our Present we can interpret our Past.In real terms Past is nothing but a rational construction of interpretations based on the facts and events that took place in the antiquities of time. The entire world is always in an attempt to interpret the Past in a manner which justifies the prevalent outcomes of the Present. The Blog Of 'The Iron Will' envisages a humble attempt to not only Interpret the past but also to Re-interpret what already has been defined as well as accepted by the world as our Established Past.

Since the inception of the blog is underway I would like to express explicitly the conceptualization behind the fundamental aspects of – what the Blog is all about (in detail) and why it is has been created.

Much of the interpretations of History and International Relations have become modern day taboos which remain unchallenged. The reason of such resistance is owed to the falsely perceived notion (as well as falsely manufactured) that such changes may pose extreme danger to the politico-socio-economic dimensions of the established World Order. Thus despite such ill-conceived paranoia an attempt to challenge these conventional interpretations is necessary for the Actual Truth to come out.

As Hegel suggested that world moves through conflict of Ideas hence we endeavor to provide the Anti-Thesis of 'Revisionism' to challenge the modern day Thesis of the 'Established Worldview' so that out of the Dialectic Conflict of these two the Synthesis formed is Truth in a more purer form.

The Fictional writers often have said that a Time-Machine is something by which a man can change his past but as we have already said above that past is nothing but a construction of Interpretations hence the right way to change the past lies in the Power of Mind. When one is able to do that and can convince the world with that, he can use that interpretation of the past to re-define his Present in a willful manner.

Thus the intent behind the blog is a earnest attempt to Unravel the Truth and for accomplishing such a great task of fighting for the Truth one requires 'The Iron Will' to conquer all the formidable foes that are standing in it’s way. So let’s pray to the almighty that the Truth remerges like the Phoenix bird from the obscurities of ignorance like a flaming entity which illuminates the darkness around it and may he also bestow upon us the blessing of ‘The Iron Will’ required to keep it up soaring high in the sky for the times to come.