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N-E exodus from 3 states unabated

Hyderabd/Chennai/Mumbai, Aug 17, 2012, DHNS: 0:42 IST

Fear factor: Railways introduces extra coaches to cope with rush

A man from a northeastern state, takes a nap at a platform while waiting for a train to board back to his home at a railway station in Chennai on August 17, 2012.  Reuters.
Repeated assurances from the government and the police have seemingly failed to assuage the panic-stricken North-Easterners, as they left for their native places in hordes on Friday.

Even as 450 North-Easterners boarded the Falaknuma and the East Coast Express on Friday from the Secundrabad railway station, the South Central Railways added an additional compartment to accommodate the rush. Several others left for Vijaywada by road and are likely to board special trains from Bangalore and Chennai on Saturday morning.

Assurances and helplines have evidently failed to contain the panic, with rumours of assault on one member of the North-East community and eviction of a few North-Easterners at King Koti aggravating the crisis. However, with no police complaints being lodged, veracity of the claims could not be verified.

Heavy police deployment was observed at the New Anjaiah colony and Siddiq Nagar areas near the Hi-tech city. Police have been deployed at all localities with a sizeable North-East population, to boost the community’s confidence. Besides, round-the-police patrols have been organised, DGP DInesh Reddy said.

Meanwhile, two Assam ministers, Pradip Bordoloi and Rakib Hussein, visited Hyderabad to restore confidence among the North-Easterners.

Similar pandemonium reigned the North-East population of Chennai, evident from the scores of North-Easterners who thronged the platform 10 and 11 of the Chennai railway station to board Howrah and Guwahati bound trains. The South Eastern Railway authorities arranged for special compartments to clear the rush.

Like Tamil refugees

“The large crowds reminds me of the arrival of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka decades ago,” remarked a policeman at the Chennai Egmore station where Howrah-bound trains from South make a brief halt.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, most of the North-Easterners unanimously agreed that “Tamil Nadu is a peaceful and safe place but we were called home by parents.” Sources in the railway police said around 5,600 North-Easterners, left Tamil Nadu till Friday evening. While not many students were spotted at the railway stations, those who left mostly comprised security men, hotel staff, factory workers and beauticians.

“My parents told me to come home after seeing on TV what has been happening in Maharashtra and Bangalore,” said 21-year-old Utpal Saikia, from Assam’s Gullghat District.

However, none of them had resigned from their jobs and plan to return once the tension subsides.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Jayalalitha said: “Tamil Nadu has always been peaceful and my government will ensure that people from all parts of India living in Tamil Nadu do not face any difficulty.”

The panic among the community members in the southern states have apparently brushed on to the North-Easterners in Maharashtra, with around 2,000 people boarding West Bengal and Guwahati-bound trains from the Lokmanya Tilak terminus at Kurla on Friday. Around 3,000 people had left Mumbai, Nashik and Pune in the last three days.

Home Minister R R Patil on Friday again warned that stringent action will be taken against those found circulating messages and trigger panic among the North-Easterners.

“All people from Assam and northeast India are absolutely safe and have nothing to fear in Maharashtra. If they encounter any problems, they should immediately approach the local police,” Patil said.

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