Plea to stay back finds no takers

The unprecedented exodus of people from the North-Eastern region living in Bangalore continued unabated on Thursday.

A crowded compartment of a train bound for Guwahati at City Railway station, in Bangalore, on Thursday night. DH Photo by M S MANJUNATH

Despite several confidence-building measures by the State Government, the community continued to harbour a perception of threat triggered by rumours, text messages and provocative inputs on social networking sites.

For the second day in succession, the City Railway Station was packed by thousands of people from the Northeast, awaiting to board the two special trains and a regular train to Guwahati.

To build trust and control the situation, the government put in place a multi-pronged strategy, including “peace meetings” between Muslims and those from the North-East, although there was no concrete evidence to prove that the panic was triggered by a particular community.

The government announced two 24/7 helpline numbers, special police patrolling in areas with concentration of people from the North-East and protection of their properties.

Announcing the helpline numbers (080-22250999 and 22942222), Home Minister R Ashoka said: “If there is any problem, you can call these numbers. The police will reach your place within five to 10 minutes and take immediate action.”

City Police Commissioner Jyothi Prakash Mirji said: “We have already begun to form mohalla committees in sensitive areas. The first of the committees have been established at Neelasandra. The committee members will be patrolling the area and also protect the properties and valuables of those who have left the City because of rumors.”

At railway station

At the City Railway Station, it was another day of rumours, panic and tension with hundreds of people from the North-East region began thronging the station early in the morning, although trains to the region were scheduled only late evening.

Sanjeev Sarmah, a hardware engineer had only one reason to move out of Bangalore: “My parents in Guwahati are concerned about the probable threat to my life here and even I do not want to take risk as everybody else from my home town are leaving Bangalore too.” By evening, thousands of people from Assam and other North-East states had gathered at the station and the number peaked at around 5,000 by around 8 pm. Like Ashoka, who rushed to the station the previous night, on Thursday it was Law Minister Suresh Kumar who continued the government’s efforts to persuade them to stay.

“We are trying our best to convince them, but many of them are not in a position to change their mind. We have even called party workers, who know Assamese and other North-Eastern languages to fill confidence in them. I hope people who are leaving now will be back in 15 to 20 days,” a dejected Kumar said.

The Divisional Railway Manager, Anil Kumar Agarwal ,said two special trains in addition to the regular train to Guwahati have been arranged. “I am keeping my fingers crossed. Hope the number of people does not go beyond 6,000, as there are no more additional coaches,” he said. Managements of colleges in the City too attempted to persuade their students to not heed rumours. Some even offered to arrange accomodation within the campus, but were firm on not preventing any student from leaving.

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