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   Photo: Along side MNF leaders, Laldenga’s widow Lalbiakdiki lays wreath on her husband’s tombstone at Treasury Square, Aizawl, on Friday.

Aizawl: As the mortal remains of Mizo legendary leader Laldenga occupy the heart of Aizawl, hismemories are central to consciousness of the Mizo National Front that he had founded in 1961.

“The legends of Pu Laldenga will remain so long there is the Mizo National Front that he had founded 62 years ago, and the Mizo National Front will not cease to exist and Laldenga will be remembered so long as the Mizos exist,” said MNF president and chief minister Zoramthanga, after laying floral wreaths on the tomb of the late leader on his 33rd death anniversary this morning.

The former Laldenga’s right-hand-man said Laldenga deserved to be called ‘Mizo Hnampa’ or ‘father of the Mizos’ who led his people for more than 20 years, likening him to Moses who led the Israelites out of their slavery. 

“Laldenga kep the faith and he held onto it until the very end,” Zoramthanga said.

Earlier in the morning, Zoramthanga took to Twitter to pahe homage to the leader. “Pu Laldenga was a true leader who devoted his life to the society of Mizo people, who consciously planted the seed of Mizo nationalism..” he said.

“The Father of Mizo Nation continues to instill the feeling of Mizo Nationalism among the present generation,” he added.

Zoramthanga led the party’s functionaries who paid floral tribute to Laldenga at his tomb at Treasury Square beside a busy street.

Laldenga, who led the Mizos Uprising in 1966 and became the first chief minister of Mizoram state in 1987, following the signing of the Mizo Accord in 1986, died on the way to a hospital from London’s Heathrow Airport on July 7, 1990. He was on his back from New York where he had undergone a treatment for his lung cancer. His condition deteriorated on the flight and was rushed towards a hospital.

Laldenga’s widow Lalbiakdiki, who also laid floral tribute, said that even though 33 years have passed since his husband died he has never faded from the memory of her and the MNF fraternity.

“The memories of those difficult times my family and the MNF cadres have gone through under his leadership are still fresh in my mind,” she said. Expressing joy that the MNF his husband had founded is now turning 51 years, Lalbiakdiki said she has trust in the MNF led by Zoramthanga. 

Laldenga’s daughter Dr Lalrinzuali, who also spoke on the ocassion, underlined that the circumstances surrounding the signing of the peace agreement in 1986 did not meet her father’s expectations.

Laldenga had initially fought for the sovereignty of Mizoram, aspiring to unite all the regions inhabited by the Mizos.

“My father held an immense love for Mizoram, prioritising it above our own family. He was ready to sacrifice his own family for the betterment of Mizoram and its people. We went through a great ordeal and we faithfully followed him on this journey,” she shared.

“Sadly, he passed away prematurely, before witnessing the realization of his vision for Mizoram and the significant achievements that followed the peace accord,” she concluded.

Laldenga, then a retired Armyman and bank clerk in Aizawl, advocated the view that the Mizos were not Indians. This idea spread like wildfire as Mizos at that time were at political crossroads, having left by the British with an option to decide their own political future. 

Laldenga’s demands for separation from India were fueled by the great famine of the late 1950s triggered by the cyclic bamboo flowering known as Mautam. The Assam’s alleged failure to rush the needed supplies in time to its eastern most district added salt to the wounds. Mizoram (then Mizo Hills) was a district under Assam at that time.

Laldenga founded the Mizo National Famine Front on October 22, 1961, to address the famine and later transformed it into a political outfit rechristening it as Mizo National Front and waged war against India from March 1966.

According to Zoramthanga, the story of the Mizo National Front (MNF), once one of the most dreaded outfits in the Northeast, is a narrative of how the “most dreaded” rebel group has transformed itself into a political party owing allegiance to the Constitution of India. 

“I can boast that the transformation of MNF from a rebel group to a political party of India is one of the most significant peace initiatives that India has witnessed in the post-Mahatma Gandhi period,” claimed Zoramthanga. 

Zoramthanga, who had been the chief minister of Mizoram for three terms (1998-2008 and 2018-till ddate), was not just secretary to the legendary Laldenga who launched the movement for a sovereign Mizoram in 1966, but also remained Number 2 to him throughout the armed struggle till it came to a close in 1986. 

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