Aizawl: Mizoram government on Saturday made a heartfelt appeal to Meiteis living in the state not leave, assuring them of their safety and security, amid escalating tension.
The appeal came after Aizawl witnessed a steady exodus of Meiteis, including students from various educational institutions, since Friday evening, as Mizoram grapples with escalating tension triggered by a shocking video from violence-stricken Manipur. The video which showed two Kuki-Zo women being paraded naked, sparked public outrage and led to growing concerns for the safety and security of Meitei individuals residing in the state.
According to sources at Lengpui Airport, on Saturday, 65 people departed on an Indigo ATR flight from Aizawl to Imphal. Most of them are from central institutions such as the College of Veterinary Sciences, RIPANS, Mizoram University and Zoram Medical College.
Apart from those leaving by air, numerous others are believed to have embarked on their journey by road since Friday evening, seeking safety away from the mounting tension.
The development came amid the Mizoram NGOs Coordination Committee’s call for a Solidarity March in support of the Kuki-Zo people in Manipur on June 25, coupled with the Mizo Students’ Union’s decision to conduct a “Meitei census.”
These are believed to have added to the apprehensions and uncertainties surrounding the security of Meiteis in Aizawl.
In response to the planned “census,” the Mizoram government has taken measures to mitigate potential tensions by deploying one section of the Mizoram Armed Police to the aforementioned institutions with a significant number of Meitei students. The aim is to preempt any developments that could pose a threat to the safety and well-being of the Meitei community in Aizawl, given the public outrage surrounding the viral video.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Northern Range) Lallianmawia said, “The deployment was made in anticipation of possible development of tension which could threaten the security of Meiteis living in Aizawl due to the public outrage against the recent viral video.”
Fanning the tension, PAMRA (Peace Accord MNF Returnees Association), a group of surrendered Mizo National Army cadres, issued a press release on Friday, asking Meiteis living in Mizoram to “leave for their own safety.” The press release was widely circulated on social media.
In view of the press release, which was construed as a diktat to leave Mizoram, the Mizoram Home Commissioner H Lalengmawia had a meeting with representatives of PAMRA Saturday afternoon.
An official statement said, during the meeting PAMRA leaders clarified that the press release was an “advisory” requesting Meiteis living in Mizoram to exercise caution in the light of public sentiments regarding the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur and was not a diktat or a quit notice to Meiteis.
The Home Commissioner also separately met with representatives of All Mizoram Manipuri Association and assured them of their safety and security and not be misguided by rumours and also persuaded them to inform their fellow Meiteis, both government employees and students, not to leave the state due to the “unfortunate misinterpretation of the press statement.”
Meanwhile, Mizo students at RIMS, Imphal are planning to leave Imphal for Aizawl. There are about 200 Mizo students pursuing higher studies in Manipur, all of which had been evacuated in the wake of the ethnic violence that broke out on May 3. However, a few of them, who have essential tasks to complete, returned to Imphal.
“Although no harm has been done to us till date, we are apprehensive of possible threats due to the fresh tensions,” one of the students said. The state home commissioner also met the students’ parents today.
Amidst these developments, reports indicate that the Manipur government is contemplating an airlift operation to evacuate Meiteis from Mizoram.