Manipur Violence: More than 2000 displaced take refuge in Nagaland

Displaced people from Manipur state rest at a relief camp. (AP Photo)

IANS Photo

Morung Express News
Dimapur | June 23

In the wake of continuing violence among the Kuki and Meitei communities, ongoing for more than a month now, an unprecedented number of people, particularly from the Kuki community forced to flee their homes are taking refuge in the neighboring states of Assam, Nagaland and Mizoram. 

In Nagaland, at least 2100 displaced people from the Kuki community have been reported to be currently taking refuge in various districts including Dimapur, Chümoukedima, Kohima, Peren and Mokokchung. The data on the displaced people taking shelter here in the state were collected mostly from a community level-the host villages, colony authorities and civil society organizations. 

According to Chakhroma Public Organization (CPO), around 1200 people are taking shelter under Medziphema jurisdiction now. CPO president Zhato Kimho said the displaced people are taking shelter at Molvom, Moava (Old and New), Sirhima, Bongsang and Khaibung villages, all Kuki villages, and in Medziphema town. 

In Dimapur district, there are currently 408 displaced people residing in different colonies and villages, according to records shared by GB, Kuki Community Dimapur and Phaipijang GB and while chairman of Kuki Chümoukedima Community said 150 have been identified to be taking shelter in Chümoukedima town. 

At Kohima, there are around 80 of them while in the Athibung circle under Peren district, a total of 246 people have been accounted for. They are said to be taking shelter in the 18 Kuki villages under Peren district.  In Mokokchung, it was reported last week that 18 Kuki children were taking shelter in Khar village. 

However, this data, though reliable, should not be considered as comprehensive since it is believed that a sizeable number taking refuge in the state are still unaccounted for due to lack of a detailed and systematic census from the government and administrative level. 

Nagaland State govt has no ‘official’ idea on the numbers
While governments of Mizoram and Assam, where thousands of displaced people from Manipur have been taking refuge, have regularly updated on the census of displaced people sheltering in their respective states, Nagaland government, which is also a host to a number of the displaced people, is yet to take up the process. 

Mizoram government, for instance, besides providing shelter in various relief camps, have also constituted a committee to aid Internally Displaced Persons from Manipur, and to enroll children in government schools. It has also sought aid from the centre. 

A high ranking official in the Nagaland government, who did not wished to be named on being queried, said there may be around 1500 displaced person, mostly Kukis in Nagaland. He added that the government is in the process of collecting data information, indicating that the state is yet to take up any initiative to collect information or initiate action on the matter of a humanitarian crisis ongoing for more than a month. 

On the question of whether the state government is providing any assistance in any form to the displaced people sheltering in Nagaland, the official responded that “so far not one has approached aid from any quarter.” 

Certain government officials in districts where the displaced people are sheltered also revealed that they haven’t received any ‘memo’ from the government to collect information on the same. Village and colony authorities also informed that whatever data/information they have been collecting is for own record keeping.

Displaced students compelled to forgo education 
Majority of the Kuki families and individuals residing in Dimapur are reported to have arrived from Imphal and employed in various capacities under the Manipur state government and central government while most of those arriving from the hills have taken refuge in the numerous Kuki villages under Medziphema and Peren. 

It is also learnt that majority of the displaced staying here now are majority women and children, with the male counterparts having gone back to “defend their villages” in Manipur. The displacement has resulted in a myriad of challenges, including access to education for children, finding suitable housing and the reliance on relatives and village support for shelter. 

Amidst the chaos, the education of children has emerged as a pressing concern for the displaced community and the sudden change in environment and loss of stability has taken a toll to their academic progress. 

“Already half of the year is gone and it is difficult to get admission for students, particularly those studying in class 8, 9 and 10,” Khupkholun Singson, GB Kuki Community Dimapur told The Morung Express. As a result of which, many students are being compelled to forgo their education, Singson added. 

The Kuki Community Dimapur, in their own capacity and limited resources, have been aiding the displaced people from Manipur by ways of helping them find rent, seek admission for students in schools and providing temporary shelter. 

A family hailing from Kangpokpi district who fled from the violence on May 30 and currently taking shelter at Indisen village are at wits end. Of the five children (four boys and one girl), only the daughter managed to get admission in a school. The eldest, who was studying B-Tech in civil engineering left for Delhi to hunt for a job while the remaining three: two in college and another in middle school would have to forgo education for now, the father who did not wished to be named stated. 

Similarly, at Jasokie colony, Burma camp, the same scenario is being played out in a family who fled from Imphal. “My two younger brothers had just started going to school in Imphal when the violence began and we had to flee. Their education journey has been cut short, they are traumatized. They won’t be able to see the inside of a class room anytime soon,” the eldest brother, who was pursuing a PhD on Anthropology at Manipur University, said.  

Many of the displaced, and residing in Imphal with employment in the Manipur government service and in businesses, are not willing to go back even if there is peace. “We cannot think of any possible reason to go back…” they stated.