Altogether 252 students from the Imphal Valley have sought transfer to colleges in the hill districts because of the unrest in Manipur, while 64 others have sought transfer from the hill districts to valley colleges.
The six-month-old ethnic strife has caused the tribal Kuki-Zo people to shun the Meitei-majority valley, and the Meiteis to stay away from the tribal-dominated hill districts, resulting in a virtually complete demarcation of the Kuki-Zo and Meitei populations.
The state’s BJP-led government gave the figure of 316 transfer-seeking college students in a two-page media statement on Saturday night that said such transfers were being facilitated.
It mentioned the various steps being undertaken to "mitigate the hardships faced by displaced students because of the violent conflict that started in the first week of May".
The statement, issued by the higher and technical education department, said Manipur University had arranged online facilities for students of colleges affiliated to the varsity who are unable to attend physical classes because of the conflict.
Steps are being taken to arrange physical classes for undergraduate and postgraduate students in Churachandpur and other hill districts, it added.
The statement said affected students would be allowed to secure provisional admission without having to produce documents that may have been lost or damaged in the conflict.
"Under Chief Minister's College Students Rehabilitation Scheme, 2023, transfer of one student from one college to another college of his or choice is allowed," it said.
"So far, 252 students have applied for transfer from Valley colleges to Hill colleges and 64 students have applied for transfer from Hill colleges to Valley colleges. They have been allowed to admit (themselves to) colleges of their choice. Updation of their new college name in university records will be done by Manipur University shortly.”
Manipur University will regenerate burnt, damaged or lost documents on request, the statement said.
The Kuki-Zo people have been demanding a separate administration citing security reasons. Deepening distrust between the communities and sporadic violence has kept the state on edge.
There is little sign of any government or civil society organisation-initiated talks between the two communities to end the conflict.
The government statement was released hours after Kuki-Zo students held a massive "March Against Education Negligence" in Churachandpur to convey the suffering caused to them by the continuing unrest and seek "alternative arrangements" to continue their education without worry.
The Joint Students' Body (JSB), a federation of students' organisations belonging to the larger Zo community in Churachandpur district that had organised the march on Saturday, had also submitted a two-page memorandum to Union home minister Amit Shah through the deputy commissioner.
The JSB had said on Saturday that "the lack of any tangible steps in addressing the grievances of our students has been spawning an increasing feeling of alienation and disaffection".
The government statement, signed by Nivedita Lairenlakpam, additional secretary (higher and technical education), highlighted the benefits extended to the affected students covering schools, central government institutions, colleges affiliated to Manipur University, medical institutes and the B. Dhanamanjuri University.
“In order to cater to request of individual students, a help desk has been created in the office of respective DCs,” the statement said.
It said the government had assigned a nodal officer for each relief camp since June to look after the needs of displaced schoolchildren.
It said that more than 98 per cent of the pupils had been readmitted to nearby schools and provided with textbooks, notebooks, stationery and sports kits, among others.
The government has empowered the deputy commissioners to issue provisional migration certificates while the Board of Secondary Education, Manipur, has allowed online applications and the issuance of migration certificates. The CBSE has "allowed" its affiliated schools in Manipur to accept the provisional migration certificates issued by the deputy commissioners.
“Alternative mode of teaching learning is being provided through Radio Class ... through local cable networks,” the statement said.