Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday said 22 students from the state currently stuck in riot-hit Manipur will be first moved to Assam, from where a special flight will be arranged to bring them back home.
Fourteen of them have been moved to the Shiv Sena office in Manipur, the Chief Minister’s Office said in a statement.
Shinde said his government was keeping a watch on the situation in Manipur. His deputy Devendra Fadnavis also promised help to the affected students.
“There are 22 students [in Manipur] from Maharashtra. I have spoken to two of them – Vikash Sharma and Tushar Awhad – and assured them of arranging a special flight to return home. I told them not to be afraid of anything. The state is making all the necessary arrangements to bring them back safely," he said.
“I have also spoken to Maharashtra Chief Secretary Manoj Sounik and other officials to make the necessary arrangements. We are currently watching the situation closely,” the CM said.
Clashes began earlier this week between the majority Meitei community and other tribal groups following a high court order asking the Manipur government to consider including the former in the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs).
The Free Press Journal spoke to a few of these students, who were terrified of the situation.
Pratik Sambhaji Kodag, who is originally from the Sangli, is one of the IIIT Manipur students who is caught up in the current unrest. He goes into detail about how awful the situation is and how each and every student is in a state of disbelief.
“Although there is a good chance that the bombings could have reached our complex, we were extremely fortunate in that nothing unfavourable happened to us. However, the building just across the street from our place was entirely wiped out by fire,” Pratik said.
He said that the clashes began on May 3 and that ever since, “everything within a hundred metres of our hostel has been on fire. At first, there was no protection, and all of the students were afraid of what would happen if the attacks continued into our complex”.
“The high court, which is where the assaults were taking place, is located quite near to our campus. Bombings were taking place only four metres away from where we are right now,” Pratik said, adding, “We are scared.”
Punar Vasu, a second-year student from IIIT Manipur who is from Chandrapur, said that she and her friends are waiting for the aircraft to come since the situation is perilous. Punar is originally from Mumbai.
“At the moment, we do not have access to the Internet, and the neighbourhood is filled with a great deal of peril. When our parents learned about the bombings and attacks, they became quite concerned and naturally worried for us,” said Punar.
She added that at no point did the students face any issues with food or electricity.
“We have been informed that it is possible that the aircraft may arrive today, but no specific time has been provided,” she said. Of the 22 students housed at Shiv Sena Bhavan, seven study at IIIT Manipur and 15 at NIT Manipur.
Dayandeep, another student from Maharashtra, added that classes have been cancelled and no student is being allowed to leave the premises. “At this time, we are being watched over by members of the Assam Rifles security team,” he said.
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