has an interesting tale to offer. The Mizos, so goes the legend,
emerged from under a large rock known as Chhinlung. Two of the Ralte
clan, known for their loquaciousness, made a great noise while coming
out of the region, which made God, called Pathian by the Mizos, to
throw up his hands in disgust and say enough is enough. He felt, too
many had already been allowed to step out and so closed the door with
a large rock.
History often varies from legends. But the story of the Mizos getting
out into open from the neither world through a rock opening is now
part of the Mizo fable. Chhinlung however, is taken by some, as the
Chinese city of Sinlung or Chinlingsang situated close to the
Sino-Burmese border. The Mizos have songs and stories about the glory
of the ancient Chhinlung civilization handed down from one
generation to another.
It is hard to tell how far the story is true. It is nevertheless
possible that the Mizos came from Sinlung or Chinlungsan located on
the banks of the river Yalung in China.
The origin of the Mizos, like those of many other tribes in
North-Eastern India, is shrouded in mystery. The generally accepted
idea is that they came to Burma (now Myanmar) as a part of the great
Mongoloid wave of migration from China. Whatever the case may have
been, it seems probable that the Mizos moved from China to Burma and
then to India under the force of circumstances.
Their sojourn in western Myanmar, into which they eventually drifted
around the seventh century, is estimated to last about ten centuries.
By degrees, the Mizos pushed westwards in their continuous search for
new pastures, which often led to clashes among themselves and wars
with the neighboring tribes. This, in turn, resulted in the
development of a form of a social order and eventually the system of
Chieftainship in the late fifteenth century. The first Mizo chief was
that of the Lusei clan named Zahmuaka, whose descendants went to rule
over vast tracts of the hills.
The exodus of the Mizos from Myanmar in the eighteenth century is an
epic replete with fierce struggles and heroic deeds. By the time they
crossed the Tiau river bordering Myanmar, the descendants of Zahmuaka,
who came to be known as the ruling Sailo clan, had provenS their
mettle as able and assertive chiefs. The traditional system of village
administration, too, had been perfected. As the head of the village,
the Chief or Lal allocated lands for cultivation, settled all disputes
in the villages, fed and cared for
the poor and offered shelter to anyone seeking refuge.
He was assisted by a council of elders known as Upa. The other village
functionaries were the crier (tlangau), the blacksmith (thirdeng) and
the priest (puithiam) all appointed by the chief and paid remuneration
in terms of rice, harvest, meat etc. The Chieftainship was hereditary,
passed on to the elder son.
As for their religion, the Mizos of the olden days recognized one
Supreme being called Pathian, though most of their religious rites
and offerings were directed towards evil spirits or Ramhuai who were
believed to dwell in streams, hills, trees or anything out of the
ordinary. They also believed that the souls went to either Pialral,
their version of Paradise, or Mitthi Khua, the abode of the
dead, the former being open only to those who had killed a specified
number of wild animals or hosted some ceremonial public feasts.
Festivals were observed regularly, accompanied by rituals and dances,
during which Zu or rice-beer flowed freely.
The newly-found land, west of the Tiau river was a wide stretch of
mountainous terrain covered with virgin jungles, offering plenty of
game, sparsely populated by lesser tribes whom they quickly ousted or
absorbed. In no time the Sailo chiefs tamed the wild country and
established a great empire. For some years, they were content to
settle down quietly and reign supreme in the hills, hardly known
to the outside world except their immediate neighbors, who fought shy
of the fierce highlanders with ghastly reputation for cutting off the
head of slain enemy for trophy.
Around the middle of the nineteenth century, the Sailo Chiefs began to
wreck havoc in the adjacent British territories of Cachar, Syhlet and
the Chitttagong hill tracts. The tea gardens in the Cachar plains, in
particular, were an eyesore to them, for they encroached upon their
hunting grounds and thus became the target of daring raids. It was
when these bold escapades culminated in the murder of a white tea-
gardener and the capture of little daughter that the British
Government was provoked into sending expeditionary forces to punish
the aggressive Sailo Chiefs.
The British annexed the Lushai hills in 1891 and it continued to be
one of the districts of Assam even after Independence. In 1954, the
Lushai Hills District was renamed
this time political consciousness and an awareness of their economic
backwardness began to manifest itself among the Mizos. This gained
momentum following a devastating famine known as Mautam which
ravaged the entire district in 1959.
As development activities proceeded apace in order to regain the lost
grounds, a strong yearning for peace grew among the Mizos - peace that
had eluded them for years. By the mid-eighties, intensive peace
overtures were made by mediators between the Government of India and
the Mizo National Front, as a result of which the two parties were
finally brought together at the negotiation table.
At long last, the two-decade old disturbance came to a welcome end on
June 10, 1986 with the signing of the epoch-making Memorandum of
Settlement by the Government of India and the MNF. The agreement,
among the other things, provided for the conferment of Statehood of
Apart from closing the bitter chapter of insurgency, the accord
safe-guarded the time-bound religious and social practices of the
Mizos. These included the customary laws of procedures involving the
administration of civil and criminal justices and ownership and
transfer of land. No act of Parliament in respect of these matters
would apply to Mizoram without the consent of the State Assembly. It
was also provided that Mizoram, if so desires, would be entitled to
have a High Court of its own.
Border trade was allowed under the agreement in locally produced or
grown agricultural commodities under a scheme to be formulated by the
Center subject to international arrangements with neighboring
countries. The Inner Line Permit, already in force in Mizoram, would
not be amended or repeated without consulting the State Government.
The accord was specific that the rights and privileges of the
minorities in Mizoram, as envisaged in the Constitution, would
continue to be preserved and protected and their
social and economic advancement would be ensured.
Consequent upon the passage of the Constitution (53rd) Amendment Bill
and the State of Mizoram Bill (1986) by the Parliament on August 7,
1986, Mizoram became a State of Indian Federation on February 20,
1987. The later also provided for a 40 member Legislative Assembly,
the first election to which was held with great enthusiasm on February
16, 1987 leading to the formation of the Mizo National Front Ministry.