As members of the Meitei community leave Mizoram over safety concerns, a top state government official met community leaders to assure them of safety, according to a report.
The meeting between the state government and Meitei community leaders came as many Meitei community members from Manipur and Assam living and working in Mizoram have left the state over safety concerns in recent days.
Manipur has been in the grips of ethnic violence from May 3. Violence began in the state after the state's tribal communities organised a Tribal Solidarity March on May 3 against the proposed scheduled tribe (ST) status to the Meitei community. Since then, over 130 people have been killed and several thousands have been displaced. Houses, police stations, offices, religious places, and political establishments including houses of lawmakers and political leaders have been attacked and set on fire.
Mizoram Home Secretary H Lalengmawia has met leaders of the Meitei community and assured them of safety and security in the state, reported NDTV.
Around 1,500 Meitei families live in Mizoram and there have been reports that hundreds of community members have left the state lately, reported NDTV.
In a statement, Mizoram Police said senior police officers are working to ensure security for the people from Manipur.
"Senior police officers and all police personnel on the ground are working diligently to ensure the safety and security of Manipuri people/Meitei in various parts of Mizoram," said Mizoram Police in a statement on Sunday.
Mizoram civil society assures Meitei community
Mizoram's civil society has also joined the state government in assuring the Meitei community in the state of their safety.
"The influential civil society group, the Central Young Mizo Association (CYMA), has also encouraged the Meiteis to live peacefully. The Mizo Students Union (MZU) has decided to halt its proposed drive to collect data about Meiteis in Mizoram after discussions with the state government," reported NDTV.
The developments come within days of nationwide outrage and condemnation over a video of two tribal women being paraded naked and being groped in Manipur by a mob. The video from May 4, a day after the violence began in Manipur, surfaced this week. Five people have been arrested in the case so far.
Meanwhile, the Manipur government has offered to charter flights to facilitate the return of Meitei community members wanting to leave Mizoram.
Why are Meitei people leaving Mizoram?
Members of the Meitei community began leaving Mizoram after an organisation of former insurgents 'advised' the community that they are no longer safe there.
The organisation, Peace Accord MNF Returnees’ Association (PAMRA), issued a statement saying that sentiments of Mizo people were deeply hurt by the violence against the Zo ethnic community in Manipur, and that it is no longer safe for Meitei people to continue living in Manipur, reported The Indian Express, adding that the statement asked the Metis in Mizoram to leave “for their own safety”.
The outrage after the emergence of the video of two women paraded naked and groped by a mob have also led to a panic in the Meitei community members in Mizoram, reported The Express, adding that the Mizos and the Kuki tribals in Manipur have ethnic relations.
"The Mizos of Mizoram share a deep ethnic bond with the Kuki-Zomis of Manipur and have been closely watching the developments in the neighbouring state. In fact, 12,584 Kuki-Zomi people from Manipur have sought shelter in Mizoram since the violence began on May 3," reported The Express.
The conflict in Manipur is primarily between the Meitei and the tribal communities. The Meiteis have long demanded a scheduled tribes (ST) status. The state's tribals organised a march against the proposed ST status on May 3, following which violence began in the state. The Economic Times reported, "Violent clashes broke out at various places in Manipur during the course of a 'Tribal Solidarity March' called on May 3 by the All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur (ATSUM). Many homes were destroyed in several parts, including Imphal valley, inhabited mostly by the Meitei community."
On May 4, the incident in the viral video took place. In the incident, two tribal women were paraded naked and were groped by a Meitei mob. The case surfaced this week after over months and the police registered an FIR in the case as the video triggered nationwide outrage. Five people have so far been arrested in the case.