Mizoram's two main species of bamboo flower every fifty years (one 18 years after the other), attracting hordes of rats and boosting their fertility rate fourfold. The rats devour crops in the fields, leaving famine in their wake. The first time this happened after Independence, in 1959, unpreparedness and apparent callousness on the part of Delhi and Assam led Laldenga, a clerk on the District Council, to found the Mizo Famine Front (MFF). Set up at first simply to fight the famine, it gradually transformed into the Mizo National Front (MNF), a guerrilla group fighting for Independent Mizoram.
In 1959, Mizo Hills was devastated by a great famine known in Mizo history as 'Mautam Famine' . The cause of the famine was attributed to flowering of bamboos which consequent resulted in rat population boom in large numbers. After eating up bamboos seeds, the rats turned towards crops and infested the huts and houses and became a plaque to the Villages.
The havoc created by the rats was terrible and very little of the grain was harvested. For sustenance, many Mizos had to collect roots and leaves from the jungles. Others moved out to far away places edible roots and leaves from the jungles. Others moved out to far away places while a considerable number died of starvation.
In his hour of darkness, many welfare organization tried their best to help starving villagers to facilitate supplies to the remove villages, no organised porters, animal transport to carry the air-drop food supplies. Earlier in 1955, Mizo Cultural Society was formed in 1955 and Laldenga was its Secretary. In March 1960, the name of the Mizo Cultural Society was changed to 'Mautam front' During the famine of 1959-1960, this society took lead in demanding relief and managed to attract the attention of all sections of the people. In September 1960, the Society adopted the name of Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF). The MNFF gained considerable popularity as a large number of Mizo Youth assisted in transporting rice and other essential commodities to interior villages.
The government's heavy-handed response in 1967, rounding up Mizos from their homes into guarded villages under curfew, not only boosted support for the MNF, but also wiped out the traditional Mizo way of life at a stroke. Bangladeshi independence was a bitter blow to the MNF, who relied on Pakistan support, and moderates on both sides eventually brought them to the negotiating table, where statehood was granted in 1986 in return for an end to the armed national liberation struggle. Laldenga became chief minister of the new state, but his administration proved rather a damp squib, and he lost to Congress in the following elections. The MNF have been in peaceful opposition ever since. A few diehards tried to continue the armed struggle, but without their leader, and with no popular support, they did not last for long. For the next few years, Mizoram was at peace. It is the land where revolution was killed by India.
A remarkable feature of Mizoram is the prevalence of peace after two decades of violent Insurgency. The Mizo Peace Accord of 1986 stands out as one of the few Accords which has remained successful in the North East. Various factors for this success include the role of the Church as mediator, and the successful transition of the Mizo National Front (MNF) into a political party. Another important factor is the strong community, which immediately steps in when conflicts arise.
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