* Part 1

Exodus follows a diktat by a group of former extremists to leave for ‘own safety’; 56 Meiteis take flight to Imphal, many leave by buses and taxis

Meitei people living and working in Mizoram started exiting the northeastern State on Saturday following a diktat by an organisation of former extremists to leave“for their own safety”.

The Peace Accord MNF Returnees’ Association (PAMRA) had issued a statement on Friday saying Mizoram was no longer safe for the Meiteis in view of the mounting tensions following the “barbaric and heinous acts committed by miscreants in Manipur”. Mizos and Kukis are ethnically related, as are the Chins of Myanmar and the Chin-Kukis of Bangladesh.

Officials of airline agencies operating flights to and from Lengpui, the airport near Mizoram’s capital Aizawl, said about 60 people took flights to Imphal’s Tulihal airport.

Imphal airport authorities said 56 Meiteis landed from Mizoram in an Alliance Air flight.

An unspecified number of Meitei people are said to have left Aizawl and other parts of Mizoram by buses and taxis.

An aquatic weed native to some countries in Central and South America, including Peru, is threatening elephant habitats and foraging areas in Valparai, a Tamil Nadu hill station close to the Kerala boundary, and reviving the risk of human-elephant conflicts in the region.

Ludwigia peruviana, which grows fast along waterbodies, has infested the majority of the hill station’s swamps, locally known as vayals, where elephants used to find lush grass even in the summer. However, the Forest Department says that most of these swamps are located on private estates, which are responsible for the tricky process of removing the weed; if not done correctly, trying to pull it out will help it spread even more.

The rapid large-scale spread of the weed — which was probably introduced as an ornamental plant for its tiny yellow flowers — has shaken the balance of these perennial foraging grounds, limiting the growth of grass and native plants that are palatable to elephants and animals including gaur.

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