The Lushai Expedition, 1871-1872 || An attack was sanctioned against the Lushai on 11 July 1871

The Northeast Dialogue



After the discovery of the tea plantation in Cachar, the English East India Company invited other European companies to take to its cultivation with easy leases. This led to the establishment of a large number of tea gardens in a gradual process and within a very short period.

It is also to be noted here that, not only tea but the traditional cultural practices were being extracted from the tribal people. This annoyed the tribals very much and they expressed their anger by repeated raids upon the tea gardens. There were numerous raids committed by the Lushais, who are today known as the Mizo. The British retorted by sending expeditions to chastise them.

Moving south from the Naga hills, in 1870, Captain Graham, Superintendent of Chittagong Hill Tracts, undertook an expedition into the Lushai Hills with the motive of constructing a road as a part of his expansionist policy to help the British in their trade and money-mongering.

However, courageous great personalities like Vendula and Ropuiliani, the co-administrators of Denglung, refused to allow the passage of the expeditionary party through their village as they understood that allowing this construction would lead to the exploitation of the natural resources of the area and their people alike. Such a strong-headed stand against the British forces led to several big and small battles.

An attack was sanctioned against the Lushai on 11 July 1871. On 1st November 1871, the British army invaded Lushai hills from two directions, namely, Cachar Column and Chittagong Column. A full-fledged battle took place between the two parties and the Lushai chiefs emerged victorious. A prominent one of the chiefs was Aikunga Fanai who assumed a decisive role in driving the British expeditionary forces out. He was later captured and sentenced to life imprisonment for waging war against the British crown. Aikunga Fanai later was deported to the Andaman Islands and sadly, no record has been traceable after that. 

The persecution faced by the tribal population of India was intense. The Lushai tribesmen bore the brunt of the colonial expansionist policy and several people including Shoorveer Pasaltha Khwangchera, Aikunga Fanai and Rani Lalnu Ropuiliani etc lost their lives. These great martyrs of the expedition are still revered in Mizoram till today.


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