The alarming gathering at the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in Imphal Monday night erupted into applause when a convoy of army trucks began pouring in. As people crammed into the vehicles boarded, 21-year-old Tanuja, a nursing student, burst into tears when her mother, Kavita, caught her.

“I had a near-death experience and came home alive. There’s nothing more to say,” she said.

She was among the 500 people stranded in relief camps in Churachandpur district who reached Imphal around 5:20 pm on Monday, amid heavy security cover.

A similar number of people stranded in relief camps in Imphal reached Churachandpur earlier in the day, at around 3 pm. It was the first mass movement between the two volatile areas since violent clashes erupted between the Mitte and Koki communities in the state on May 3.

The issue of safe passage for Meitei evacuees primarily from the Kuki-controlled Churachandpur district and those Kuki evacuees from the Meitei-controlled city of Imphal has been a major source of tension in the past few days and Monday’s development has brought a wave of relief. for many families.

Another 467 people were taken from Moreh to Imphal on Monday.

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About 72 of those who arrived in Imphal on Monday night were students of Churachandpur Medical College, who had been housed in a relief camp in the district administration compound since May 4.

“We couldn’t imagine something that could happen this scary. We were stuck in our hostel on the night of May 3 and arrived at the camp on May 4. This morning, the district collector told us that we will be sent back to Imphal. Said Jishree Salam, 20, a medical student. In the first year, “there was very tight security, so we didn’t feel afraid during the trip.”

Although the day brought relief, they were worried about their future. “We are very afraid to go back there. We cannot go back,” said her friend Farhanaz Sultan, 21.

Khungdongbi, 75, a resident of Saikot, Churachandpur, had to be evacuated with her family after their house was destroyed in the violence. Arriving in Imphal with her daughter and grandchildren, she said: “We escaped from a war-like situation. At least now I know that I will surely survive.”

With only the first phase of these evacuations taking place, the anxious wait continues for many.

Eighteen-year-old Priya arrives in Imphal with her grandfather and her dog, Maxi. As she tearfully waited for her brother to pick her up and take her to his home in Moerang, she said, “I lived in Churachandpur with my uncle and aunt. They are still in the relief camp. They are not brought today.”

An army colonel who was part of the evacuation said the evacuation of nearly 5,500 people in the Churachandpur camps “will move quickly”. “The number of people in the camps in Imphal is much higher and this process will take a few more days,” he said.

Meanwhile, Imphal was quiet on Monday after a four-hour curfew was eased in the morning, but the afternoon saw a heavy security presence before evacuees moved in. “The curfew has been eased from two hours to four hours in different areas,” said Kuldeep Singh, Security Adviser to the Manipur government.


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