Centre bans bulk SMSes to stem N-E rumours

Centre bans bulk SMSes to stem N-E rumours

12,659 leave City; 5 held for assaults; RAF to be deployed

The Centre on Friday announced a ban on bulk SMSes and MMSes for a fortnight following rumours leading to an exodus of North-East people from several major cities, including Bangalore.

Assam Transport Minister Chandan Brahma talks to North- East people at City Railway Station in Bangalore on Friday. DH Photo / S K Dinesh

The Union governent also issued directions to all Internet service providers to disable any inflammatory or hateful content that targets the community.

The Karnataka government’s efforts to instill a sense of security among Bangalore’s North-East community, however, appeared ineffective with 12,659 more leaving the City by train on Friday by 11 pm.

The government will deploy Rapid Action Force (RAF) battalions across the City and has arrested scores of troublemakers. In addition, three battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force have reached Bangalore. They will be stationed in the central, eastern and south-eastern parts of the City. But all the steps — including two Assam ministers’ visit and pleas — have failed to stem the unprecedented exodus.

The situation was no different in other parts of the country. Thousands continued to throng railway stations in Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai as panic continued and many claimed that they were under family pressure to “come home for personal safety” in the wake of the recent Assam violence.

Six RAF companies of 600 troopers were commissioned for Bangalore by the State police, who were readying for flag marches, parades and patrol in areas with a heavy concentration of North-Eastern population.

Two separate cases of assault on North-East people were reported from the City on Friday and five have been arrested. It was, however, not clear whether those held belonged to any fundamentalist organisations and whether the attacks were planned.
 
Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister R Ashoka said the police have some leads on the origin of the SMSes that triggered the exodus. He said he couldn’t reveal the details.
The minister said 16,000 of the around four lakh North Easterners living in Bangalore had left the City for their home states until Thursday night.

The South Western Railway had arranged two special trains in addition to the regular service to Guwahati on Friday.

“We have done everything in our capacity to convince the people not to panic. Though we failed on the first day, the situation improved on Thursday. We coaxed around 200 people into cancelling their travelling plans,” said Ashoka.

Assam’s Agriculture Minister Neelamani Sen Deka and Transport Minister Chandan Brahma arrived in Bangalore and assured the North-East community that Bangalore was safe and gave full marks to Karnataka government for measures taken to ensure their protection and safety.  Deka and Brahma told reporters that they would convince those who have already left Bangalore to return at the earliest. The two ministers had been deputed by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to review the situation in Bangalore.
“Bangalore is second home to the people of North-East. There is nothing to fear. Bangalore is safe,” Brahma said.

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