|Chief Minister of Mizoram|
11 June 1927|
Pukpui, Assam, British India (now Mizoram, India)
|Died||7 July 1990
|Resting place||Treasury Square, Aizawl|
|Political party||Mizo National Front|
Originally a Havildar in the Indian Army, Laldenga later worked as an Accounts Clerk in the Government of Assam. Disappointed by the Government's indifference to the severe famine in the Mizo district in the late 1950s, he rebelled against the Government. As a leader of the Mizo National Front (MNF), he led a secessionist war seeking Mizo territory's independence from India. He was captured many times, and spent most of his time in exile in Bangladesh. The guerrilla movement lasted for sixteen years till the Mizoram Accord was signed in 1986, by which he became the Chief Minister. He won the first Mizoram Legislative Assembly election under statehood in 1987, and continued at the Chief Minister office for another year. He died of lung cancer in 1990.
Laldenga was born on 11 June 1927 in village Pukpui in the Mizo district of Assam (now in the Lunglei district of Mizoram). He joined the Indian Army and served up to Havildar. He resigned from the army and joined civil service as Accounts Clerk under Government of Assam in Aizawl.
Laldenga joined a voluntary organisation called Mizo Cultural Society, formed in 1955, as its Secretary. The society became Mautam Front in March 1960 to work for relief due to the Mautam famine that affected the entire Mizoram (which was then a district council of Assam). The government could not make efficient effort to provide basic survival needs, and this prompted the need for more powerful pressure group. The organisation was then renamed Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF) in September 1960. This soon evolved into a political organisation and ultimately became the Mizo National Front (MNF) on 22 October 1961.
On the night of February 28, 1966, the MNF launched an audacious attack on the district's major towns, resulting in the March 1966 Mizo National Front uprising. It declared independence and called on the Mizos to rise against Delhi. The Indian Government responded by sending troops and aircraft on bombing missions. Villagers were uprooted from the hills and sent to Regrouped Villages built along the highways. For the next 20 years, violence continued in the Mizo hills with the fighters camping in East Pakistan. With the fall of East Pakistan in 1971, Laldenga's men scattered to Myanmar while he moved to Pakistan. After secret meetings in Europe with Indian officials, he returned seeking a peaceful resolution of the problem.
Peace Accord and last days
When Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister of India in 1984, it encouraged a new wave of negotiation. Laldenga met him on 15 February 1985, and peace settlement was on its way. On 30 June 30, 1986 the official document entitled Mizoram Accord, 1986, Memorandum of Settlement was then signed by Ladenga, R. D. Pradhan, Home Secretary, and Lalkhama, Chief secretary. Ladenga became an interim Chief Minister, as the sitting Chief Minister Lalthanhawla stepped down to Deputy Chief Minister. Under the terms of the accord, Mizoram was granted statehood in February 1987. Laldenga and his party MNF won the first elections to the state legislature. However, defections toppled him from office in 1988.
He never rose to political arena again due to chronic lung cancer. After he got medical treatments in New Delhi and New York, he headed for London. Just after landing on airport, he died on the way to hospital on 7 July 1990. He was honoured with the first state funeral in Mizoram, and buried at the centre of Aizawl city.
- "About Mizoram - History". National Informatics Centre, Mizoram State Centre. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "Laldenga, Tribal Leader in India, 53". The New York Times. 8 July 1990. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- Chatterjee S (1994). 'Making Of Mizoram. Md Publications Pvt Ltd, India. pp. 320–324. ISBN 978-81-85880-38-9.
- Nunthara, C. (1996). Mizoram : Society and Polity (1. publ. ed.). New Delhi: Indus Publ. Co. pp. 290–293. ISBN 978-81-7387-059-0.
- "MNF-in Laldenga thih champha hmang" [MNF commemorates death anniversary of Ladenga]. Vanglaini (in Mizo). 9 July 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- Suhas Chatterjee (1994). Making of Mizoram: Role of Laldenga. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi. ISBN 8185880387