More than 1,100 people from Manipur's Jiribam district and surrounding areas have crossed the inter-state border to enter Assam's Cachar district, following violence in the neighbouring state, officials said on Saturday.
Most of the migrants are from the Kuki community and they fear that their homes back in Manipur have been destroyed by the groups which attacked them on Thursday night when they fled to safety in Cachar.
What do the migrants say about the tragedy?
"It was around 10 pm on Thursday when we heard screams in our area and it took a few minutes for us to realise that we had been attacked. They were pelting stones, threatened us and said that this is their final war," 43-year-old L Muangpu, a resident of Jiribam said after crossing the state border.
Another resident, 24-year-old Vahcy Khongsai, who along with her family members fled their home, said that there was a peace meeting in their area on Thursday morning and both Meitei and Kuki communities assured to protect each other.
"A resolution was taken and we are happy that both the communities have agreed to protect each other. At night, however, we realised that it was a false agreement. They first attacked the church and attempted to burn our homes. The men in our area risked their lives to protect us," she said.
Khongsai said the Army controlled the situation on Thursday night but still they preferred to leave their houses at least for sometime.
"We are safe till the army is there but they cannot protect us every time. At midnight we decided to walk towards the Assam border and we crossed the Jiri river with kids and elderly persons," she added.
Officials confirm the number of migrants who left Manipur
Cachar Deputy Commissioner Rohan Kumar Jha visited the border area under Lakhipur Sub-division on Friday and said that all necessary facilities are being provided to the people from Jiribam by the Cachar district administration.
Jha said that over 1,100 people from Manipur have come to Cachar via the Jiri river waterway and a few others by road due to fear of the ongoing violence in their state.
Some of them have gone to their relatives home and others have taken shelter in the different camps established by the Cachar district administration in Jorkha Hmar lower primary school, Mirpur lower primary school, Fulertal Union high school, and community halls in Rangmaijan, K Bethel and Lalpani villages in the sub-division, the deputy commissioner said.
Rations for two days have been provided immediately and more will be distributed as required, he said. The situation along the border area is peaceful the DC said, and appealed to people not to fall prey or spread any rumour related to the unrest in neighbouring Manipur.
Cachar Superintendent of Police Numal Mahatto said that security has been beefed up in neighbouring areas of Cachar-Manipur border and all measures have been taken to maintain the peace and tranquility in that area.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the state government was in constant touch with students from Assam who are in Manipur.
"We will bring them back as soon as the first available opportunity arises. I request all family members not to worry about their safety, as we are taking all possible measures to ensure their well-being", Sarma tweeted.
The chief minister had directed the Cachar district administration on Friday to take care of Manipur violence-affected families that have sought refuge in the state and that he was in constant touch with his Manipur counterpart N Biren Singh.
Silchar MP Rajdeep Roy said the Central government is keeping a close eye on this issue and Assam Government is standing by Manipur in this situation. He said that migrants will be safe in Assam till the situation becomes normal in Manipur. Assam's two districts -- Cachar and Dima Hasao -- share a 204.1 km border with Manipur.
Violent clashes broke out between tribals and members of the majority Meitei community in Manipur on Wednesday, displacing thousands of people. The clashes were reported after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the ten hill districts of Manipur to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of the state population and live mostly in the Imphal valley. Tribals -- Nagas and Kukis -- constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside mostly in the hill districts.
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