Soon after the former cadres of the erstwhile Mizo National Front – now known as PAMRA (Peace Accord MNF Returnees' Association) – issued a statement on Friday, 21 July, asking Meiteis in Mizoram to 'watch out for their safety', people from the community have been making their way out of the state.
The Quint visited a camp in Assam's Cachar district, where at least 40 Meiteis who left from Mizoram have taken shelter.
The Meiteis recounted the details of events which led them to flee from their homes in Mizoram – almost 2.5 months after ethic violence erupted in their neighbouring state Manipur.
"This time, not a single organisation, but a bunch of them have given us threats. Mizoram organisations like Mizo Zirlai Pawl, Mizo Students Union, PAMRA, and Young Mizo Association are going to organise a rally on 25 July," a person from the Meitei community told The Quint, on condition of anonymity.
They added, "We are being asked not to leave our rooms during that rally for our safety. We all know what happened to the so-called peace rally that was being called by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur on 3 May, we are afraid this rally can also take a similar turn."
The 'Tribal Solidarity March' on 3 May saw thousands of people – mostly Kukis – hit the streets in the hill districts of Manipur, as they opposed the demand for inclusion of the Meitei in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. While the protest rally ended peacefully in several hill districts, there were several reports of scene arson and vandalism in Churachandpur, Moirang, Motbung and Moreh.
'Social Media Has Made the Conflict...'
A 40-year-old displaced Meitei from Mizoram claimed that government officials in the state forced them to condemn the sexual harassment incident on social media.
"We have condemned this incident when we got to know about it, still officials of the Mizoram government forced us to put up posts on our social media condemning the incident for our safety," they told The Quint, speaking about the disturbing viral video from Manipur's Kangpokpi district of two women, in distress, being paraded naked in Manipur. The video has drawn widespread condemnation and calls for action.
One of Meiteis, who had taken shelter in the camp, alleged that fake news is spreading like 'wildfire on social media', adding that one of the posts claimed that one of the two women in the distressing viral video was a Mizo – triggering more tension in the state.
"I think social media has made this conflict from Meitei vs Kukis to Meiteis vs tribals, and that is why the situation has worsened in Mizoram," he added.
'Not a Quit Notice to Meiteis': PAMRA Clarifies
In a press statement, the PAMRA clarified that the statement issued by them was an advisory for the Meiteis to "exercise caution in the light of public sentiments in light of ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur and not a diktat or a quit notice..."
"After the Home Commissioner informed representatives of PAMRA about the steps and measures being taken by the government on various fronts regarding the ethnic conflict, PAMRA representatives while expressing regret that their Press Statement was misconstrued, decided not to pursue it any further in order to maintain peace and tranquility in the state."PAMRA Press Statement
Meanwhile, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma has asked the local administration to provide shelter and adequate safety to the displaced Meiteis from Mizoram, Superintendent of Police, Cachar, had told the media.
According to reports, there are approximately 2,000 Meiteis residing in Aizwal, including students and government employees. Apart from Assam, many reportedly left back for Manipur