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'My Meitei Friends Left': Students Flee Mizoram in Panic Despite Govt Appeal

The tension causing Meiteis to flee Mizoram comes amid horrific reports of ethnic violence in Manipur.

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"The students left for home in large numbers early this morning. Majority of students from Manipur never returned to university since the violence started in May. And those who did were scared after talks of Meitei census started doing the rounds," a Mizoram University professor told The Quint on the condition of anonymity.

As tensions in Manipur continue to escalate, the professor narrated how panic has gripped the Meitei community in Mizoram after the Peace Accord MNF Returnees’ Association (PAMRA), an organisation of former underground Mizo National Front Militants, issued a statement on 21 July condemning the ethnic violence in Manipur and asking Meiteis residing in Mizoram to leave “for their own safety."

However, Mizoram Home Commissioner Pu H Lalengmawia met with PAMRA representatives on Saturday, 22 July, in light of the statement and assured the community of their safety and security.

The state government asserted that the statement by PAMRA has been "misconstrued."
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'PAMRA Statement Misconstrued': Mizoram Govt

In a statement issued following the panic, the Mizoram government said that the Home Department held a number of meetings with representatives of All Mizoram Manipuri Association, assuring them of their safety and security in Mizoram. "No incident of violence or untoward incident has been reported till date," the government clarified.

It also said that PAMRA's statement was "misconstrued" and presented as a diktat to the community to leave the state.

"In the meeting, PAMRA representatives clarified that the Press Release that was issued by them was an advisory requesting Meiteis living in Mizoram to exercise caution in light of public sentiments regarding the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur and was not a diktat or quit notice to Meiteis," the Mizoram government said.
The tension causing Meiteis to flee Mizoram comes amid horrific reports of ethnic violence in Manipur.

Press statement from Mizoram Government. 

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

The Mizoram government further said that PAMRA representatives expressed regret that their press statement had been misconstrued and decided not to pursue with their press statement any further "in order to maintain peace and tranquility in the state."

But Meiteis in the state still appear to be on the edge.

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'Safe Here, But Want to Return Home'

Since violence erupted almost three months ago, 12,584 members of the Chin-Kuki-Zo from Manipur have fled to Mizoram seeking safety and refuge, the state government said. According to reports, there are approximately 2,000 Meiteis resideing in Aizwal, including students and government employees.

The Manipur government, too, said that it is willing to provide flights for those who want to leave Mizoram. The Mizoram airport department, though, assured Meiteis that there is no threat to the community in the state.

The office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Aizwal) Lallianmawia on Friday also deployed forces at four locations – Vely College, Selesih; Mizoram University, Tanhril; RIPANS, Zemabawk; and ZMC, Falkawn.

The tension causing Meiteis to flee Mizoram comes amid horrific reports of ethnic violence in Manipur.

Notice issued by Office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Aizwal) Lallianmawia. 

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Despite several such assurances of the community's safety, scores of Meitei students residing in Mizoram have continued to flee since Friday.

"There was panic among students after PAMRA circulated that press note asking Manipuris to leave Mizoram. Most of my Meitei friends have left for home. Some of us are still here," a Meitei student in Mizoram told The Quint.

"I saw on social media that Manipur government will arrange flights or some sort of transport for us to go home. We are waiting for that. Though for now it feels safe here, we'd still like to return home," they added.

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The tension causing Meiteis to flee Mizoram comes in the backdrop of horrific reports of ethnic violence in Manipur.

Most recently, a video showing a Meitei mob sexually assaulting and parading at least two Kuki-Zo women naked, had sparked outrage across the country.

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