As tensions rise, Meiteis forced to leave Mizoram

56 Meiteis take flight to Imphal, many from across Mizoram leave by buses and taxis

Updated - July 23, 2023 11:06 am IST

Published - July 22, 2023 06:28 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Mizoram Home Commissioner H. Lalengmawia meets leaders of the Peace Accord MNF Returnees’ Association, an organisation of former extremists, on July 22, 2023. Photo: dipr.mizoram.gov.in

Mizoram Home Commissioner H. Lalengmawia meets leaders of the Peace Accord MNF Returnees’ Association, an organisation of former extremists, on July 22, 2023. Photo: dipr.mizoram.gov.in

Meitei people living and working in Mizoram started exiting the northeastern State on July 22 following a diktat by an organisation of former extremists to leave “for their own safety”.

The Peace Accord MNF Returnees’ Association (PAMRA) had issued a statement on Friday saying Mizoram was no longer safe for the Meiteis in view of the mounting tension following the “barbaric and heinous acts committed by miscreants in Manipur”. Mizos and Kukis are ethnically related, as are the Chins of Myanmar and the Chin-Kukis of Bangladesh.

Also Read |Manipur — this is not a time for finger-pointing 

Officials of airline agencies operating flights to and from Lengpui, the airport near Mizoram’s capital Aizawl, said about 60 people took flights to Imphal’s Tulihal airport. Imphal airport authorities said 56 Meiteis landed from Mizoram in an Alliance Air flight. An unspecified number of Meitei people are said to have left Aizawl and other parts of Mizoram by buses and taxis.

Sources said the N. Biren Singh government was making arrangements to airlift settlers in Mizoram from Sunday morning to avoid road travel.

According to a Manipur Government estimate, there are about 2,000 Meiteis in Mizoram, including teachers at Mizoram University. Half of them are from Manipur while the other half are primarily from southern Assam.

Also Read | Rights bodies demand action in case of sexual assault on Kuki women in Manipur 

The PAMRA’s statement on Friday was with reference to a viral video showing a mob parading two naked women, one of whom was allegedly gang-raped at B. Phainom village in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district. The incident took place on May 4.

The Mizoram Government had beefed up security in Aizawl after PAMRA issued its statement in the wake of the viral video. The video was also cited by Mizoram’s Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Lallianmawia in a letter to the commandants of two Mizoram Armed Battalions and an Indian Reserve Battalion. He said the safety of the Meitei people in Aizawl should be ensured in view of the outrage over the video.

Appeal to stay back

Mizoram’s Home Commissioner, H. Lalengmawia, held a meeting with the leaders of PAMRA on Saturday, seeking a clarification on the statement they had issued purportedly to threaten the Meiteis.

“The PAMRA representatives said their statement was an advisory requesting the Meiteis living in Mizoram to exercise caution in the light of public sentiments regarding the ongoing conflict in Manipur and was not a diktat or a quit notice to the Meiteis,” a Mizoram Government spokesperson said.

Also Read | Meiteis | Clash of clans in Manipur  

The PAMRA representatives expressed regret that their statement was misconstrued and have assured not to do anything that would affect peace and tranquillity in the State, the spokesperson said.

“We also met with representatives of All Mizoram Manipuri Association and assured them of their safety and security and persuaded them to inform their fellow Meiteis, both government employees and students, not to leave the State,” Mr. Lalengmawia said.

Officials said a total of 12,584 Chin-Kuki-Zo people from Manipur took refuge in Mizoram till July 21.

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