Many states in India were formed because of unique languages, landscapes cultures etc.
But do you know the story of how a state was formed due to bamboo trees and rats!?
So here’s a fascinating story for you,
‘Mautam’ is a natural ecological phenomena which is assumed to happen once in every 40-50 years in the North Eastern states of India, where a species of wild bamboo suddenly flowers in great volumes. It happened in 1863, 1911, 1958 & 2006 and is expected to come again in 2025-2026 in North East India
Bamboo Trees growing isn’t much of a problem otherwise, but with all the flowers and seeds it brings the real trouble-Rats. Mautam brings a massive rodent infestation as a follow up and rats multiply by thousands at this time. Hence, these rats eat everything, destroy crops, cause diseases in humans and eventually leads to a big famine.
Returning to the history back in the 1900s, the Mizo elders in North East India with all due experience from the previous famines, knew this concern & tried warned the Government of Assam (It used to be one big state then ) of the impending danger in 1958
However, as one would expect in such stories, The Government of Assam had no respect for history and shooed away the warnings of the Mizo elders referring to it as tribal superstitions.
Eventually, the rats came and the destruction started. Famine struck by killing many people and destroying even more.
The locals took up the mantle themselves & an estimate of 2 million rats were killed. A bounty of 40 paise per rat was placed & everyone scrambled to save their livelihoods. The negligence of the govt led to creation of a Mizo National Famine Front by an accounting clerk, Laldenga
The famine front slowly took shape into a political organization and the Mizo National Front came in and later the Mizo National army to demand independence from India and Laldenga staged a big struggle in 1966. A bitter separatist struggle ensued for the next 2 decades
Laldenga took help from Pakistan first, & Bangladesh & then later escaped as a refugee in London all the while fighting with the Indian army Finally, it seemed like a peace accord was going to come in October 1984. And as fate had it written, the day Laldenga was to meet Indira Gandhi, she was assassinated!
It took another few years of discussions with Rajiv Gandhi & finally the Mizoram Peace accord was signed in 1987 and Mizoram was carved out as a separate state 30 years after the bamboo trees and rats had long died. Laldenga went onto become the first chief minister of the state.
Mizoram today is a wonderful state in the north east with its own wonderful flora & fauna. In the next Mautam in 2006, the government was a bit proactive & cultivated ginger and turmeric as a remedy with the science that their aroma would drive off the rodents and as facts had it, the famine was not as severe.
It did take years of struggle but it was definitely the Bamboo and the Rats that put this beautiful North Eastern State to attempt and fight for its own separate identity and acheive it all together. We at Terraveller bring to you some unique stories and for more, you are just a tap away