The state government has completed its evacuation of 242 Meghalayans from violence-hit Manipur in six days.
Cabinet minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, who headed the government’s evacuation team, today thanked the army for helping in the process, as citizens were stranded in all corners of Manipur, such as Churachandpur and Moreh which were both hit by violence.
The list includes students from the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Central Agriculture University, Manipur University, sportspersons and a few relatives or family members of students.
“We engaged actively with the army and paramilitary forces in Manipur and we’re grateful they came forward to assist our students who were feeling the pressure,” Lyngdoh said. “This was a voluntary evacuation process and an option was given to citizens. They registered themselves and that is how we coordinated and evacuated them.”
At the start of the troubles, numerous SOS calls from students and their parents and wards were received as the situation deteriorated and food rations became hard to get. It was then that the government decided to create a system to bring citizens back home, Lyngdoh said.
A special flight was arranged with the central government to bring back 67 Meghalayans on May 5. “Next we collaborated with commercial airlines and made sure that airlines booked the tickets on behalf of the students” as mobile phone internet had been cut off, recalled the minister.
The average cost of a flight from Imphal was between Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 per passenger, she informed and the government is now working out the total cost of the evacuation.
Asked what were the challenges during the whole experience, Lyngdoh said that the biggest was getting in touch with the people when there was no mobile internet and while cellular networks were strained. The other big issue was in coordinating with the military in order to provide the necessary security to transport the people to the airport.
“That is why I reiterate that we’re so grateful to the Assam Rifles and other army personnel who went out of their way to fetch our students and citizens from wherever they were,” Lyngdoh said.
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