16 arrested in Bangalore, northeast exodus subsides

Sixteen people have been arrested in Bangalore, eight for spreading rumours leading to flight of people from the northeast people from here and eight for assault, a top police official said Saturday even as the exodus slowed to a trickle.

Three people were arrested Saturday for sending out SMSs and MMSs of rumours, taking the total to eight, Director General of Police Lalrokhuma Pachau told reporters here. The five others were arrested in Bangalore Friday.

He said eight others had been held for assaulting northeast people regarding which 15 cases had been booked in the last three days.

Bangalore Police Commissioner B. G. Jyotiprakash Mirji said the three arrested Saturday were identified as Anees Pasha, T. Nawaz and Shahid Salman Khan. They have been held on charges of spreading enmity among various communities.

He said four mobile phones, two computers and a laptop had been seized from them.Pachau said security has been strengthened in sensitive areas of the city with the deployment of 600 Central Police Reserve Force (CRPF) and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel along with additional state police force.

The increasing number of arrests came as the situation in Bangalore appeared normal with only a few hundred northeastern people leaving the city Saturday as against thousands in the last three days.

"Only about 100 unreserved tickets to Guwahati were sold till 4 p.m. at the city station in contrast to over 8,500 tickets till late Friday. We do not see the need to operate a special train late Saturday, as the unprecedented rush of passengers to northeast has drastically declined," South Western Railway (SWR) Bangalore divisional manager Anil Kumar Agarwal told IANS.

With no direct express train to Guwahati from Bangalore Saturday, as it is operated thrice in a week -- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the absence of northeast people, especially students in thousands at the city railway station was conspicuous.

"We have sold a record 29,363 unreserved tickets to Guwahati and beyond on three consecutive days from Aug 15 to 17 at the city railway station and operated eight special trains with 151 coaches, mostly general second class and luggage vans to clear the heavy rush of passengers," Agarwal said.

"We had to scramble to arrange at short notice so many (151) unreserved and general second class coaches from our and Mysore divisions in our zone (SWR) and other divisions of Southern Railway, South Central Railway and Central Railway. It was an uphill task to detach many such coaches from regular passenger trains to assemble two-three special trains a day," he added.

Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa, who hails from Karnataka, visited the station and reviewed the arrangements, including security situation to ensure safety of passengers and visitors.

Interacting with about 100 northeast people waiting to board any train to Guwahati or Howrah via Chennai, Muniyappa urged them to cancel their trip and stay back in the city, as the state government had made elaborate security arrangements to ensure their safety and security of their property.

In view of the Eid festival Monday and uneasy calm in the city due to rumours and fear of attacks on northeast people to avenge the month-long ethnic violence in the lower Assam region, six companies (100 each) of the RAF have been stationed in sensitive areas where migrants are residing in large numbers.

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