In the wake of a distressing video depicting the sexual assault and stripping of two Kuki-Zomi women in Manipur, the Meitei community residing in Mizoram has been gripped by panic, leading many to leave the state on Saturday. Responding to the alarming situation, the Manipur government has expressed its readiness to arrange chartered flights to evacuate the Meiteis from the region.
The Mizos of Mizoram share a strong ethnic bond with the Kuki-Zomi community of Manipur and have been closely monitoring the unfolding events in the neighboring state. In a show of solidarity and compassion, Mizoram has provided shelter to 12,584 Kuki-Zomi people seeking refuge since the outbreak of violence on May 3.
The recent panic among the Meitei community was triggered by a statement issued on Friday by the Peace Accord MNF Returnees’ Association (PAMRA), an association of former underground Mizo National Front militants. The statement, written in Mizo, urged Meiteis residing in Mizoram to leave “for their own safety.” It cited the deep hurt caused to the sentiments of the Mizo people by the violence against the Zo ethnic community in Manipur and expressed concerns about the safety of Meitei residents in Manipur.
Approximately 2,000 Meitei individuals, including government employees, students, and workers, reside in Mizoram’s capital city, Aizawl, with a significant number hailing from Assam’s Barak Valley.
In response to the Friday night revelation of the statement, the DIG Northern Range of Mizoram promptly issued an order for security personnel to be deployed at four locations to ensure the safety of Meiteis in Aizawl.
By Saturday afternoon, several Meiteis had already commenced their departure from the state. One of them, an unnamed Meitei employed in a private company in Aizawl, shared that until now, he had felt secure in Mizoram, praising the Mizos as “gentle and humble” people. However, the recent developments have compelled many Meiteis to flee, leaving their belongings behind in rented accommodations. A significant number from Barak Valley have chosen to depart by road, while others seek refuge at Aizawl airport, reflecting the growing fear and apprehension within the community.
Attempting to allay the concerns of Meitei residents, the Mizoram Home Commissioner, H Lalengmawia, communicated with PAMRA on Saturday, who clarified that their message was not intended as a threat but rather an expression of concern for the Meiteis’ security, conveyed in good faith. The Home Commissioner further assured that the statement would be withdrawn due to its unintended impact.
In an effort to reinforce safety assurances, the Mizoram Home Department released a statement, emphasizing that the Meiteis are not under any threat. Additionally, the Home Commissioner held a meeting with representatives of the All Mizoram Manipuri Association to address their concerns and discourage them from leaving the state based on any misinterpretation of the press statement.
Meanwhile, Manipur government spokesperson Sapam Ranjan Singh acknowledged the tension resulting from the statement and confirmed that the government is in contact with the All Mizoram Manipuri Association. He reassured that if necessary, the government would arrange a chartered flight to facilitate the safe departure of individuals from Mizoram.
The situation remains tense as authorities continue to work towards calming fears and ensuring the safety and well-being of the Meitei community amid the ongoing crisis.