Aizawl: Veteran Mizo leader and former Mizoram chief minister Brigadier T Sailo died at a private hospital here following heart failure. He was 93. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
"Brigadier Sailo was rushed to a private hospital after he complained of heart pain on Friday afternoon and died there subsequently of heart failure," the authorities said.
Sailo, who was the chief minister of Mizoram for five years and five months in two stints between June 1978 and May 1984, had joined the British Indian Army in 1942 and promoted to the rank of brigadier in the Indian Army in 1966, the year the erstwhile separatist outfit (now a political party) Mizo National Front (MNF) declared independence from the Indian union.
"After retiring from the Indian Army in 1974, he formed the Human Rights Committee to ease the lives of Mizo people reeling under terrorism and alleged army excesses. He formed the Mizoram Peoples Conference (a political party) in April 1975 that won the Mizoram union territory elections in 1977, and he became the second chief minister of the state," said N Sailo, a close associate of the late leader.
He said: "Sailo became the first Indian Army officer from among the Mizo community. As a brigadier, he was posted in the mid-1960s during the floods in Odisha and Bihar, where he was honoured for exemplary service in providing relief to affected people."
He was elected to the state assembly in 2008 for the last time and quit active politics at the age of 92 after his term ended in 2014.
At the age of 92, he was the oldest living elected member of any legislative body in India.
Both the ruling Congress and the opposition MNF condoled the death.
The Congress in a statement said: "We have lost a great leader. The Congress party will uphold his visions for the state's development. His death is a great loss for the Mizo people for whom he was a great saviour."
The MNF in a separate statement said: "Sailo rescued many innocent men, women and children from the atrocities committed by the Indian Army during the years the MNF fought for independence."