After the barbaric murder of 76 CRPF soldiers, the IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, has said that he is not in favor of the use of air power in anti-Maoist operations. He has said that use of military power was to inflict maximum damage, and without a 100% guarantee that the targeted area or person is an enemy of the country, using lethal military force against Indian citizens isn't warranted. But in 1966, an incident that shook the foundation of Indian democracy to the core occured. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, ordered Hunter and Toofani fighters of the IAF to destroy 'targets' in the Mizo city of Aizwal (an incident which was later denied by the PMO). Various houses were destroyed, innocent civilians killed or injured and scores left homeless and seeking answers for the barbaric act. Here is an article from NEWSLINK, published on March 5th, 2007, highlighting one of the versions of the story. Memories of inferno still remain fresh NEWSLINK Monday, March 05, 2007 Bureau report Aizawl, March 5th, 1966: Today marks the 41st anniversary of the historic Aizawl bombardment, which had turned the once-beautiful hill town Aizawl into ashes, a few days after the declaration of the "Mizoram independence" by the Laldenga-led Mizo National Front. While Mizoram now has emerged as one of the most peaceful states and marching ahead as one of the most developing states of India, memories of the inferno still remain with those who survived the trial by fire. "In the afternoon of March 4 1966, a flock of jet fighters hovered over Aizawl and dropped bombs leaving a number of houses in flames. The next day, a more excessive bombing took place for several hours which left most houses in Dawrpui and Chhingaveng area in ashes," recollected 62-year-old Rothangpuia in Aizawl. According to some records, Hunter and Toofani fighters were deployed for the Aizawl bombardment, which became the first and only aerial attack India has carried out against its own people. The fighters came from Tezpur, an IAF air base in Assam. Apart from Aizawl, Tualbung and Hnahlan villages in northeast Mizoram were bombarded. Surprisingly, there were no human casualties officially reported in any of the air raids. "In the first wave of attack the planes used machine guns and later on used bombs. The attack came in three waves, on the second day the attack lasted for about five hours," MLA Andrew Lalherliana recounted. According to Joe Lalhmingliana, a retired wing commander of Indian Air Force, Tezpur Air Force base - which presently hangars MIG 21 Operational Flying Training Unit (MOFTU) - was the base for the Mizoram aerial attack of March 1966. "The Indian Air Force deployed Hunter and Toofani jet fighters to carry out the mission; it was the first time India used its air force to quell a movement of any kind among its citizens. Goa was a different story, it was a move to drive away the Portuguese," the former airman said. Till today there has been no satisfactory answer as to why India used such excessive air force against its own citizens in order to suppress an insurgency. Surprisingly, the Mizo National Front was outlawed only later in 1968. In the aftermath of the Aizawl air raids, two MLAs of Assam, Stanley DD Nichols Roy and Hoover H Hynniewta, came to Mizoram (then Mizo district under Assam) to see with their own eyes what happened to the people of the Mizo District and were totally shocked by what they saw. Later in April, Nichols Roy moved a motion in the Assam House on the Aizawl air attack. "The use of excessive air force for taking Aijal (the former name of Aizawl) was excessive because you can not pinpoint from the air who is loyal and who is not loyal, who is an MNF and who is somebody pledging allegiance to the Mizo Union, the ruling party in the Mizo district," Roy was quoted as speaking to the Assam chief minister by Mizo historian JV Hluna in his book 'Debates on Mizo Problems on Insurgencies, with special reference to the contributions of Stanley DD Nichols Roy, MLA and Hoover H Hynniewta, MLA.' JV Hluna noted that a hot debate over the Mizo issue continued in the House. Nichol Roy even referred to a statement made by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi published in the Hindusthan Standard on March 9, 1966 where the PM, answering a foreign correspondent, insisted that the air force was "deployed to drop men and supplies." "Nichols Roy stated that whether the shells of bombs, which had been dropped in Aijal, be sent to Delhi to ask the Prime Minister, 'How do you cook this ration? If these are supplies, please tell us how you cook these things'?", JV Hluna said in his book. Strongly condemning the use of air force, the other MLA Hynniewta produced photographs of one unexploded bomb and some fragments of exploded bombs as proof of the Aizawl air attack, which was strongly denied by the Government of India. "We touched it, we measured it and we took photograph of it. We have fragments of the bombs. We have the testimony of hundreds of people who have heard the explosions the moment the planes flew over in Mizo Hills," Hynniewta addressed the chief minister. "If you want to suppress the MNF rebellion, ordinary bullets are sufficient. From any point of view, military, physical or economic, these weapons should never have been used," the MLA told the House. "Given that the only sources of information regarding the insurgency in Mizoram for the outside world were the words of the Assam chief minister, the Assam chief secretary and the Prime Minister (who on the other hand denied the air attack), the contributions of the two MLAs were very notable," JV Hluna said. Since the MNF rebels had already taken Army installations in Champhai, Lunglei and Saitual in the initial stage of the rebellion and Aizawl in danger of being overpowered, the Indian Government might have been too nervous to have second thoughts about an aerial attack on its own territory.