Rumours drive N-E people out of City

Top cops seek to reassure community

Panic triggered by wild rumours of impending violence sparked a heavy exodus of people of North-Eastern origin living in the City, to their home states, on Wednesday.

A large number of people wait at the City railway station, to catch trains bound for the North-East on Wednesday. DH Photo / Kishor Kumar Bolar

Thousands of people packed the City railway station on Wednesday night to catch the earliest available trains to leave the City. Despite appeals by the police to ignore the rumours, the rush to get back home was unabated.

As the buzz of large-scale violence after the period of Ramzan took hold during the day, sale of train and flight tickets skyrocketed. So heavy was the rush at the railway station that Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka rushed to talk to the passengers.

Officials of the Bangalore Railway division who were stunned to discover 4,793 tickets being booked on a single day scrambled to organise two special trains departing on Wednesday night to Guwahati to accommodate them.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde spoke to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, asking him to reassure the North-Eastern community in Bangalore.

The two special trains were in addition to the regular train leaving for Guwahati on the same night. One was an 18-coach special, while the other was a 19-coach special. Divisional Railway Manager Anil Kumar Agarwal said they had no other option in view of the heavy bookings.

More trains

“We do not know what we will do if the same thing continues tomorrow. We are trying to get coaches and there is a possibility that we may schedule more trains,” he said.

At a hurriedly-convened press briefing on Wednesday evening, in-charge Director General and Inspector General of Police, Lalrokhuma Pachau, appealed to people from north-eastern states not to leave the City, and sought to dispel their fears.

Pachau attributed the fears over reports of planned scale violence against the community after August 20, as mere intimidation and termed it baseless rumour-mongering.

 “We have received reports that there has been a fear psychosis created in the North-East community based on rumours. But I assure them that not even a single such incident has been reported in the city till now. I appeal to them not to heed to any rumours and leave the city,” Pachau said.

Police Commissioner B G Jyothi Prakash Mirji said patrolling and security had been intensified in sensitive areas.

“We have instituted an enquiry into the source of these rumours and will take stern action if found. Even I will supervise the night rounds and patrolling. We assure the community that we would protect them in any eventuality. But we foresee no such eventuality.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too had spoken to the Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Sunday to protect the considerable population of North-Eastern origin in the state.
None of the assurances however seemed to have worked.

Several people of North Eastern origin that this paper refused to be named  paper but confirmed being threatened over the last couple of days. A native of a northeastern state who works at Bengaluru International Airport claimed that he was verbally threatened by a passerby when he was returning home from work a few days ago. The stranger ran into him at Neelasandra and asked him to “leave” Bangalore.

“He apparently mistook me for an Assamese and said I should leave the city immediately. Things will otherwise be difficult,” he said. One of his friends also received a similar threat. “A man walked up to my friend and asked him to go away immediately. Else, his head will be chopped off.”

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