‘We felt scared, but college campus was safe’: BTech students on return from Manipur

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New Delhi: Haryana native Sewak Ram, pursuing BTech at a leading engineering college in Imphal, heaved a sigh of relief after landing in Delhi from violence-hit Manipur on Tuesday.

“We felt scared, but the campus of our college made us feel safe. We had food and water. But, being confined inside the campus for about five days reminded us about the Covid-induced lockdown,” Ram said.

He hugged his college mate at the airport here before they parted on the way to their homes.

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Ram and a few other students from Haryana, all pursuing BTech degree at Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Manipur, reached the national capital on Tuesday evening after being evacuated from the northeastern state which has been rocked by ethnic violence since May 3.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had on Monday said that 60 people were killed, 231 injured and 1,700 houses including religious places burnt in the violence that sparked concerns among family members of students from various states studying in that state.

Some of the evacuees, all in their early 20s, PTI spoke to at the Delhi airport said the Harayana government “made arrangements for their safe return” after students and parents reached out to it, in the wake of the violence.

“Situation is difficult in villages and inner areas, but Imphal city is safer. Police provided us everything,” Ram told PTI.

He said many students of IIIT-Manipur hailing from other states have also been evacuated by their respective state governments.

More than 140 students from Bihar were on Tuesday brought back from Manipur. Scenes of rejoicing were witnessed at Patna airport as they returned safely to their home state.

According to an official, a special flight commissioned by the Nitish Kumar government carried 142 students from Bihar, besides another 21 from the neighbouring state of Jharkhand.

In Delhi, while some evacuees made their way to their homes in Haryana by themselves, harried parents of some had come to the airport to take them home, after waiting anxiously for the flight from Imphal to land.

Panipat native Lakshya, a first-year student of BTech, went home accompanied by his parents.

“He has not eaten anything since morning. But I am just happy that my child is back,” Lakshya’s mother said, as they wheeled their way out of the airport.

Lakshya said in the last several days situation was “not good” and “I am glad we are out of that situation”.

Arvind Pathak of Gurugram was also among the evacuees who reached Delhi along with his fellow students of the engineering college.

“Earlier, situation in Manipur was quite bad, now it is a bit better. We were all together in the campus, so we didn’t feel much fear. Our teachers also comforted us,” he said.

The situation across violence-hit Manipur is improving, with no fresh reports of any untoward incident, while curfew has been relaxed in all the 11 districts where it was clamped, officials said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Tuesday said more than 300 students from the state, who were stranded in violence-hit Manipur, were brought back in the last few days.

Sangma also said his government had on Monday arranged for a special flight on the Imphal-Shillong route to evacuate students stuck in the trouble-torn state.

Violent clashes broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the 10 hill districts on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

The clashes took place between the tribals living in the Manipur hills and the majority Meitei community residing in the Imphal Valley. Over 23,000 people have been rescued and sheltered in military garrisons and relief camps.

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( With inputs from )

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