T. Sailo

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Ṭhenphunga Sailo
2nd Chief Minister of Mizoram
In office
2 June 1978 – 10 November 1978
8 May 1979 – 4 May 1984
Preceded by Ch. Chhunga
Succeeded by Lal Thanhawla
Constituency Aizawl West II
Personal details
Born (1922-01-01)1 January 1922
Melkhat/Ṭhuampui, Lunglei, Mizoram
Died 27 March 2015(2015-03-27) (aged 93)
Resting place Kanan Veng, Aizawl
23°43′53″N 92°42′30″E / 23.73139°N 92.70833°E / 23.73139; 92.70833
Political party Mizoram People's Conference
Spouse(s) Thansiami
Children Lalsangliana Sailo
Lalhmangaiha Sailo, IRS
Laldingliani Sailo, IRS
Lalrinliana Sailo
Residence Aizawl
Military career
Allegiance  British Raj (1942–1947)
 India (1947–1974)
Service/branch  Indian Army
Years of service 1942–1974
Rank Brigadier
Commands held Assam Regiment
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards Padma Shree (1999)

Ṭhenphunga Sailo (1 January 1922 – 27 March 2015) was a Brigadier of the Indian Army, and the second and twice the Chief Minister of Mizoram, a state in northeast India. He was the creator of Mizoram People's Conference, one of the major political parties in Mizoram. He was a recipient of Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) and Padma Shri for his humanitarian works during his military service,[1] and Mizo Award for his lifetime achievements.

T. Sailo was the son of Vanchheuva, a Mizo chief of Ṭhuampui village at Lunglei district. He studied at Serkawn Middle English School, Shillong High School (in Meghalaya), and Serampore College in Calcutta (now Kolkata). He earned his certificate of Intermediate of Science (higher secondary level) from the University of Calcutta. He immediately joined the British Army to serve in World War II. Recruited as Second Lieutenant in 1942, he became the first military officer among the Mizo people. He retired with the rank Brigadier in 1974. By then his native state was ravaged by political insurgency, and he soon set to humanitarian works and established the Human Right Committee, which he developed into a recognised political party named People's Conference (later renamed the Mizo People's Conference) in 1975.

T. Sailo led his new party to victory in the Mizoram Legislative Assembly election in 1978, and he became the second Chief Minister. Re-election the next year also brought him the same victory and remained the Chief Minister till 1984. Though he was elected for MLA seat in the 1984 election, his party was overwhelmed by the Mizoram Congress party (under the Indian National Congress Party). He was appointed the Opposition Leader in the legislative assembly. He was subsequently elected in 1998 and 2008, but failed to uplift his party. He retired from politics in 2013, and at age 91 he was by then the oldest elected legislator.

Early life and education[edit]

T. Sailo was born to Mizo Chief Vancheuva and his wife Hrangvungi. He completed his elementary schooling from Serkawn Middle School in Lunglei, and was the topper in the Middle School Leaving Certificate examination under the Mizoram Board of School Education.[2] He then went on to High School in Shillong from 1937 to 1940. He then went on to study Intermediate of Science (higher secondary education) in Serampore College in 1941. The next year he earned his certificate under the University of Calcutta[3]

Army career[edit]

At the height of World War II, T. Sailo joined the Indian Army, which was under the British Army, as a Second Lieutenant in 1942. He became the first military officer among the Mizo people.[4] After the Independence of India, he was promoted to Lt Colonel in 1960, in 1963 he was again promoted to Colonel, and then in 1966 to Brigadier until his retirement in 1974.[3]


After retiring from Army, T. Sailo created the Human Rights Committee in 1974 fighting for alleged Army excess against civilian's caught in the separatist conflict between the Indian Army and Mizo National Front.[5] He submitted a memorandum containing 36 cases of atrocities by the Indian Army since 1 March 1966. To fight his cause in the political arena, he founded the People's Conference Party (later to be renamed Mizo People's Conference) on 17 April 1975. His party won the Mizoram Legislative Assembly election of 1978, and he became the second Chief Minister of Mizoram on 2 June 1978. Due to political unrest his government was dissolved after six months in November, and the Union Territory was declared under President's Rule. In the next election in 1979, his party won again and he once again became the Chief Minister, the post he held for full term till 1984. In the 1984 election, although he was elected in his constituency, his party was defeated by the Indian National Congress Party led by Lal Thanhawla. He became the Opposition Leader.[6]

His party felt a serious blow with the Mizoram Peace Accord of 1987, as the Mizo National Front emerged not only as a new political party, but also was offered the government as part of the peace negotiation. For a short while he changed the party's name to Mizoram Janata Dal but renamed it to reflect to its old name Mizoram People's Conference. In the government formed after the 1998 elections, he was part of the ruling coalition led by the Chief Minister Zoramthanga of the Mizo National Front. He was appointed Principal Adviser to the state government.[3] His ministry has also initiated the Aizawl city extension project, Bairabi Dam which he alleged were never pursued by the successive governments.[7]

T. Sailo was again elected in the 2008 election and as his last term as Member of the Legislative Assembly ended in January 2014, he retired. He announced his formal retirement at the assembly session on 24 July 2013. At age 92, he was allegedly the oldest elected member of any legislative body in the world.[8]

Awards and honours[edit]

T. Sailo was given the military award Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) during his service. He was awarded the Padma Shree in 1999 by the Government of India.[3] In 2001 the Mizo Zirlai Pawl declared him as a corruption-free politician from their public poll.[9] On April 2011, the then Governor of Mizoram, Lt. Gen. Madan Mohan Lakhera, awarded him with the Mizo Award organised by the Vanglaini daily newspaper in Mizoram.[10]

Personal life and death[edit]

T. Sailo married Thansiami, daughter of a Mizo folklorist P.S. Dahrawka, in 1946. They had three sons, Langsangliana Sailo, Lahmangaiha Sailo, and Lalrinliana Sailo; and a daughter Laldingliani Sailo.[6] Though a son of an Indian Army officer, Lalsangliana joined the Mizo rebels, the Mizo National Army (later Mizo National Front), on the sly while studying graduate course at St. Edmund's College, Shillong, in 1966. He became one of the elite "Special Force" under Laldenga, leader of the MNA.[11] Lalhmangaiha and Laldingliani both entered the Indian Revenue Service.[12] After retirement Lalhmangaiha succeeded his father as President of the Mizoram People's Conference in 2010. Lalrinliana studied medicine (MBBS) and became a Medical Officer under the Government of Mizoram.[13]

T. Sailo wrote an autobiography of his military life A Soldier's Story.[9]

He had been suffering from lung problems and hypertension. On the morning of 27 March 2015, he had trouble breathing and was taken to the New Life Hospital. He was pronounced death at 11:50 IST. His funeral was held the next day at noon and was interred at his private grave in his garden.[6]


  1. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Vanchhawng, Kiddy (27 March 2015). "MIZO ARSI LIAN, BRIG T. SAILO HERLIAM TA" [Brig T. Sailo the giant star of Mizos has died]. Mizo Special Report (in Mizo). Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Brig T. Sailo Biography". elections.in. Compare Infobase Limited. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Former Mizoram CM Brigadier T Sailo passes away". The Day After. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Bareh, Hamlet (2007). Encyclopaedia of North-East India: Mizoram. Mittal Publications. 
  6. ^ a b c "CM hlui leh Mizo Award 2011 dawngtu Brig. Ṭhenphunga Sailo kan chân ta" [Former CM and Mizo Award 2011 recipient Brig. Ṭhenphunga Sailo has died]. Vanglaini (in Mizo). 28 March 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Sailo among oldest active politicians". IBN Live. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Chhakchhuak, Linda (25 July 2013). "Brig Sailo bids adieu to active politics". Assam Tribune. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  9. ^ a b CHDA (28 March 2015). "Pu Thenphunga Sailo thlah nan" [An obituary of Thenphunga Sailo]. Zalen (in Mizo). Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  10. ^ Vanlalsangi, K (20 April 2011). "GOVERNOR IN MIZO AWARD HLAN" [Governor gave away the Mizo Award] (in Mizo). Directorate of Information & Public Relations, Mizoram. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  11. ^ Bareh, H. M. (2001). Encyclopaedia of North-East India: Mizoram Volume 5. New Delhi: Mittal Publ. pp. 95–96. ISBN 978-8-1709-9792-4. 
  12. ^ "Current Commission Laldingliani Sailo". National Commission for Women. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  13. ^ Chawngchilh. "Lalhmangaiha Sailo". mi(s)ual.com (in Mizo). Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
Preceded by
President's rule
Chief Minister of Mizoram
2 June 1978 – 10 November 1978
Succeeded by
President's rule
Preceded by
President's rule
Chief Minister of Mizoram
8 May 1979 – 4 May 1984
Succeeded by
Lal Thanhawla