Exodus of people from northeast continues from Bangalore (Lead)

August 17th, 2012 - 10:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook Bangalore, Aug 17 (IANS) The exodus of people from northeast, including hundreds of students, from Bangalore continued Friday even as police arrested three youths for allegedly assaulting three Manipuri workers at a shopping mall here.

“As over 8,000 unreserved tickets were sold throughout the day… we have arranged three special trains from Bangalore to Guwahati to clear the extraordinary rush of passengers to northeast. One train left at 4 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. One more will depart at 10 p.m.,” South Western Railway (SWR) spokesman Syed Imtiaz Ahmed told IANS.

The special trains are in addition to the regular express trains to Guwahati and Howrah, which leave Bangalore late in the night.

The sudden exodus, majority of them students, workers, security guards and those employed in the hospitality sector, caught the authorities off-guard, as renewed efforts by the state government to desist them from leaving Bangalore had no effect.

“An estimated 16,000 people from northeast have left Bangalore during the last three days despite our appeals to stay back with assurances to ensure their safety and security,” Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka, who holds the home portfolio, admitted to reporters here.

Even desperate attempts by two Assam ministers - Neelamani Sendeka and Chandra Brahma - who flew from Guwahati Friday afternoon, failed to convince the people.

“We have appealed to our people to put off their travel plans and stay back as the Karnataka government had assured them full protection. They need not fear for their safety as the authorities have taken enough measures to provide security,” the ministers told reporters at the city railway station in the presence of Ashoka and state Law Minister S. Suresh Kumar.

Though majority of those leaving said that they were rushing home for a break due to week-long holidays, some of them confirmed that they were going back in response to summons from worried parents and relatives, following rumours that they would be attacked after Ramadan in retaliation to the recent violence in Assam.

“I have no clues why so many of our people have suddenly decided to rush back home. Wild rumours that they would be harmed for avenging the mindless violence in Assam have created a fear psychosis and a sense of insecurity among the people of northeast,” said Johson Rajkumar, who also hails from Assam and is working as a lecturer in a city college here.

In a related development, police arrested Abrar Ahmed, Salman and Vinay, aged 22-24, for assaulting three persons from Manipur at a shopping mall.

Police withheld names of the victims for their safety and security reasons, and are interrogating the accused to ascertain the reasons for the attack and if more people were involved in the incident.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar ordered an inquiry into the rumour-mongering that triggered exodus since late Wednesday.

“The chief minister informed MPs from the state in New Delhi that he had directed police to investigate the wild rumours against northeast people in Bangalore and alleged threats to their students of a backlash against the ethnic violence in Assam,” an official of the chief minister’s office told IANS here.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in sensitive areas across the city and patrolling intensified in localities populated by northeast people, including college-going students, blue collar and white collar employees, security guards and women working in beauty salons.

“We are getting calls regularly on the two helpline numbers set up in the city control room. But they are general, to find out how the situation is, if threat calls are being made and if anyone attacked. No specific complaint against anyone so far” Bangalore deputy commissioner of police (intelligence) Vincent S. D’Souza told IANS.

As part of the investigation, cyber sleuths attached to the city crime branch have started cracking at the sensational messages sent through SMS and MMS, e-mails and postings on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter that caused panic and fear among the 240,000 northeast people living in Bangalore and another 100,000 in other cities across the state.

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