Rescued from Manipur, Delhi students recall harrowing days

- May 13, 2023
| By : Muhammad Tahir |

Four students from the national capital, who were stuck in Manipur as violence gripped the state, heave a sigh of relief as the rescue flight touches down Delhi

Four students from the national capital, who were stuck in Manipur as violence gripped the state posing for photograph at IGI Airport Delhi

The past weeks saw fierce clashes in Manipur between its main ethnic group, the Meiteis, and the indigenous communities, over the former’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status that have left over 50 killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced.

Violence erupted as the minority groups, including Kukis, who are already included in the ST category, protested against the Meitei demand.

While the state is limping back to normalcy, four students from Delhi, who returned on May 9, are still panic-stricken as they recall horrific nights.

“When the state was on the boil, we didn’t even switch on the lights at night. A fake news article was being circulated that our hostel will be attacked,” said Abhishar Prince Jha, a first-year BTech student and one of the four from Delhi.

Abhishar, along with three other BTech students –  Aman Kumar, Priya Kumari, Harsh Parihar – are students at Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Imphal.

At the peak of violence, the students had appealed to the Delhi government for rescue.

A day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal dialled his Manipur counterpart regarding the students’ evacuation, all four were brought back.

Abhisar continued, “We were in the middle of examinations when the situation worsened. So, the exam that was scheduled for May 3 was deferred keeping section 144 in mind. However, we still thought that things will get better in two-three days. But then the next exam was also cancelled and  internet was shut down. We were completely cut off from the world outside our hostels.”

“Then we saw several army trucks, fire brigades, and water tankers passing outside. We had never seen this before. Besides, there were countless planes in the sky and we could hear the sound of blasts.  In the morning, we saw smoke from behind the mountain near the University. Our family back home began calling us but we couldn’t talk much as the wifi was hardly functioning in the campus,” said Abhisar, a resident of Lado Sarai.

“However, the situation inside the campus was safe. The education minister of Manipur also came to the campus, met the students and assured them of their security. But we wanted to go home. The college also permitted those wanting to go home to return. So students started to contact their state government. More so, because the price of air ticket was skyrocketing,” he said.

What is usually Rs 7,000 from Imphal to Delhi, shot up to Rs 27,000 in a matter of hours.

“Even flying to Guwahati was costing us Rs 13,000. So, we wrote to the Delhi government on email and on Twitter, urging rescue. Students from Maharashtra were the first ones to be rescued and on May 8, we received confirmation from the Delhi CM’s office that our ticket had been confirmed for May 9.  The CM also spoke to us and assured us of our safety,” he added.

On May 9, the students were safely dropped of at the airport to travel back home.

According to the student, there are many who are still stuck in the University.

“After all this, may be our exams will resume in July and we will go back then,” he said, praising the Delhi government for their rescue.

Priya heaved a sigh of relief after landing in Delhi from violence-hit Manipur.

A resident of Nangloi, Priya recalled the harrowing time, “One morning we saw that a mountain, behind our college, was burning. The students were frightened. Our study was also greatly affected, because we were in constant fear and were not able to read properly. But the college administration was in touch and fully cooperated with us. There was also a shortage of food in the mess. Those two or three days were tense but our college was safe because the CRPF quarter is on its back-side while the high court is at the front.”

“While we were there, the NIT campus was attacked and a student was rescued. So, we appealed to our government and wrote to CM Kejriwal. When we were returning, the situation was getting back to normalcy in some areas slowly. The college has said that our session will start in July. For now, I’m fully satisfied with how we were evacuated,” Priya concluded.