Kohima: A total of 553 people, including a large number of Konyak Nagas have been evacuated from Manipur by Assam Rifles on May 10 in the second phase of the rescue operation to help people during the ongoing crisis in Manipur.
Out of them, as many as 261 were Konyak Nagas, an informed source said ‘Organiser’.
“All 47 girls who were seeking out help on social media have been brought back. The Konyak Union has expressed their gratitude,” the source said.
In the first phase, 676 Nagas, including students, were brought from Imphal on May 7; thus in total, it comes to 1229.
“Rescue team went to the interiors of Thoubal District to extricate these girls. They were all working on hourly wage-basis in a Veneer factory,” the source said.
The first phase of the operation was led by Brigadier Ved Beniwal, Deputy Inspector General of IGAR (North) in Nagaland, whereas during the second phase, Colonel Umesh Sati, Commandant, 1 Assam Rifles, led the evacuation.
In the first phase of evacuation, students were picked up from the Imphal-based Agri University and Regional Institute of Medical Science (RIMS), sources said. The personnel from 7 Assam Rifles and 43 Assam Rifles have been pressed into service, they said, also adding that a complement of 14 civil buses has been provided by the State police of Manipur from the Senapati region.
Sources further said the services of Colonel level officers were enlisted for facilitating the enroute and ensuring trouble free movement.
Officials say over the years, the Assam Rifles have not only ensured peace and security in the North East, as an outfit called ‘Friends of the Hill People’ this paramilitary force has also contributed immensely in various rescue and relief operations during natural disasters and other crises and also helped promote education and take care of people’s health, especially in rural areas.
The Sadbhavna scheme run by Assam Rifles catering to multi-sectors is a game-changer in more than one, they say.
“Scores of students residing in the hostel of the Manipur University were shifted. Assam Rifles is also providing humanitarian aid in terms of food and shelter to all locals in addition to working towards restoration of law and order in Manipur”, the Assam Rifles said in a tweet last week.
Army sources in Rangapahar near Dimapur said proactive rescue operations, conduct of flag marches, area domination, interaction with locals/ influencers to reassure them of their personal safety among major activities are undertaken by over 100 columns which are operationally deployed.
“As a result of proactive and timely response, Churachandpur, KPI, Moreh and Kakching are now under firm control with no major violence reported since yesterday night,” they said.
IGAR North or GoC Nagaland Maj Gan Vikas Lakhera received the Naga students and civilians at Kohima on May 7.
The crisis in Manipur had sparked off after Meiteis and Kuki tribals clashed over the issue of demand of ST status by Meiteis. There is nothing new in the conflicts between different communities in the North East.
It goes without stating that each State in the region, and especially some vulnerable ‘sub regions’ within each State in the North Eastern region, represents a bewildering ‘mosaic’ of identities. There are cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic differences which not only cut across one another but they also ‘overlap’.
If Meiteis and Kukis have clashed lately; in the 1990s, the Kukis and the Nagas had issues over land domination and other parameters like jobs. The result was even indiscriminate killings of Kukis in Nagaland by the militant group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak Muivah faction) — NSCN (IM).
Manipur itself has more than 30 ethnic groups. BJP leader and Minister of State for External Affairs, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, told this journalist last week: “As you know, Manipur historically is a land of 34 ethnic communities and historically all have shared the value of co-existence as a State of Manipur and the culture of Manipur and the photographic landscape of Manipur have been well protected by all the communities”.