Shettar convenes high-level meet as NE people flee Bangalore

As over 5,000 panic-stricken people from North Eastern states fled the city after rumours of attacks targeting the community spread, Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar is holding a high-level meeting today to tackle the situation.

Two Assam-bound special trains were operated late last night in addition to the regular service to clear the sudden rush of passengers triggered by the rumours in the wake of some attacks on North Eastern people in some parts of the country in the Assam violence backlash.

The stabbing of a Tibetan student by two motorcycle-borne men in Mysore on August 14 added fuel to the fears of the North Eastern people whom the Government and Police are trying to convince that they are safe in the state.

However, State DGP Lalrokhuma Pachuau, who himself is from North Eastern state of Manipur, told PTI today that the exact number of people who fled the city was not known as many bound for Guwahati were regular passengers, and not those leaving following the rumours.

Concerned over the development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself spoke last night to Shettar who assured him that steps were being taken to give protection to the people from the North East.

Besides Singh, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi also spoke to Shettar on the issue.

Sources in the Chief Minister's Office said that Shettar would today discuss with the officials the exodus and find solutions to tide over the fresh problem.

A small group of people at the railway station said, "We are expecting the railway authorities to make an announcement of arranging special trains to Guwahati. We want to be with our families in Assam. We have been informed that some people are planning to attack us as our community was attacked in Mumbai and other parts of the country.

"We do not want to take any risk as nobody comes to our rescue when we are attacked," Monica and others from her region said in unison as they waited at the railway station this morning.

Railway officials had said yesterday that they had sold more than 5000 tickets for northeast destinations.

Members belonging to various organisations, including RSS, visited the railway station and tried to convince the fleeing people that no violence would be perpetrated against them and Karnataka was much safer than Assam.

Pachuau dismissed as baseless the rumours that people from the North East might be targeted and said not a single case of assault or verbal threat against them had been reported in the state. A probe was on into the "wild rumours", he added.

"The situation is completely peaceful. Not even a single incident related to the north-east people has been reported in the whole state," Pachau said.

Pachau said rumours were spread by word of mouth, text messages (SMS) and social networking sites such as FaceBook.

He averred that mischievous elements must have spread rumours, in the backdrop of Kokrajhar incidents in Assam and the violence in Mumbai that followed a few days later.
Railway sources said they might operate additional bogies on today's train to Guwahati if required.

A large number of people from the northeast, including students, reside in Karnataka, particularly in Bangalore where they are employed in call centres, hotels, beauty parlours and private security services, among others.

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