A floating mass of rumours!

A floating mass of rumours!

Over the last couple of days, the situation of hysteria prevalent among the North-Eastern community in the City seems to have spiralled out of control.

Thousands of students and young professionals hailing from that part of the country have been packing their bags and crowding at railway stations, in a desperate bid to get out of the City and back to the ‘safety’ of their homes.

And to a large part, this panic can be traced down to a floating mass of insinuations, rumours and threats, many of which are being carried forward through various forms of social media.

Frightening text messages and vague e-mail warnings are plentiful, while bizarre reports of attacks and kidnappings — none of which, it seems, can be actually verified — are doing the rounds on social networking and micro-blogging sites. Where can the origin — the ground zero, so to speak — of this panic be traced to? Vibhuti Bane, who has employed several North-Eastern cooks at his restaurant, and  hence justifiably worried about them, says that it’s tough to pinpoint.

He, however, feels that traces of apprehension existed more than even a week ago.
 “This situation has caused quite a panic among my staff. Many of their families are calling them back, thinking there’s a threat to their lives. Of course, we have received reassurances that there will be cops patrolling the area at night and have been given emergency contact numbers — but I think a lot of panic is being spread sheerly through rumours. In fact, an acquaintance of mine from Bombay BBMed me around two weeks ago, saying that he has apprehensions of violence. Honestly, I feel such messages just add to the fear and hate. In fact, I replied to him saying so,” he recalls. He admits that a lot of this hysteria is unjustified. “It’s probably just some form of vote-bank politics,” he reflects.

Damsel Jini, a student from Arunachal Pradesh, admits that a lot of this hysteria is being passed on through word-of-mouth, texts and to some extent, social networking sites.

“There are many incidents which are being referred to — for instance, I’ve heard some of my friends say they have been threatened by autorickshaw drivers, who say they will take action against us after Eid. We’ve also heard reports about North-Eastern boys being beaten up in different parts of the City. Besides this, I’ve read many reports on the internet about people from our community being verbally abused,” she explains.

However, she’s unsure about the veracity of these reports. “I don’t know how much of this is true,” she adds. Piya, a North-Eastern student, too agrees that certain external factors have added to the mass hysteria. “Of course, there have been rumours — media reports, on social networking websites and other places. The fact that so many people are talking about this does adds to the fear. I’ve read posts that say autorickshaw drivers aren’t ready to give us rides anymore!” she describes.

Despite these external factors, though, she does believe that every North-Eastern student planning to leave the City is erring on the side of caution. “This is something personal. It’s about our mental state — we just don’t feel safe,” she sums up.

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