Efforts on to evacuate Bengal people stranded in strife-torn Manipur: Mamata

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Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said efforts are underway to evacuate people of the state stranded in violence-hit Manipur.

Expressing concern over the violent clashes in the northeastern state, which have claimed the lives of 54 people, Banerjee urged Chief Secretary H K Dwivedi to monitor the situation and make efforts to evacuate the stranded people.

“Deeply anguished by the kind of messages and SOS we are receiving from Manipur. I am concerned about the safety of the people of Manipur and others hailing from different parts of the country, now stranded there,” she tweeted.

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“Govt of Bengal is committed to stand by the people and has decided to make every effort to evacuate people stranded there in coordination with the government of Manipur. The chief secretary has been directed to monitor the entire process, to help people in distress and despair. We are with the people at all times. Urge everyone to maintain peace,” she added.

Banerjee also provided helpline numbers for those seeking assistance.

The total number of people from West Bengal stranded in Manipur is not currently available.

The death toll in the ethnic violence which has engulfed Manipur increased to 54, officials said even as unofficial sources placed the figure at several scores dead and more than 150 injured.

Meanwhile, life limped back to a wary normalcy in Imphal Valley as shops and markets reopened and cars started plying the roads.

Violence first erupted in Torbung area in Churachandpur district of Manipur during the ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ organised by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM) on May 3 to protest the demand of Meiteis for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

The march was organised by tribals — including Nagas and Kukis — after the Manipur High Court asked the state government last month to send a recommendation to the Centre within four weeks on the demand for ST status by the Meitei community.

During the march in Torbung, an armed mob allegedly attacked people of the Meitei community, leading to retaliatory attacks in the valley districts, which escalated the violence throughout the state, police said.

Multiple sources said the fighting between communities had left several scores of people dead and nearly a hundred injured. However, the police were unwilling to confirm this.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of the population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals, who include Nagas and Kukis, account for another 40 per cent of the population and live mostly in the hill districts which surround the valley.

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( With inputs from )

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