Karnataka CM assures protection to northeast students (Lead)

August 16th, 2012 - 6:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Aug 16 (IANS) Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar Thursday assured protection to students from the northeast in Bangalore as well as other parts of the state.

“Our police will offer full protection to you all. There is no reason to worry. Believe in our government and not in rumours,” Shettar told about 200 northeastern students at his official residence here.

Warning “anti-social elements” of strict action for spreading rumours and causing fear among the northeastern students, Shettar said not a single attack had been reported to police so far.

“We have set up two helplines in the city police control room to complain about any threat or warning to you by anyone in person or through any medium. We have set up special squads to act against rumour mongers and mischievous elements,” Shettar said.

Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka, who holds the home portfolio, said the helplines - 080-2225-0999 and 080-2294-2222 - will be open on 24×7 basis.

“We have intensified patrolling and stepped up security in and around colleges, offices, public places, markets, railway stations, bus stands and in localities across the city where northeastern students reside in large numbers,” Ashoka said.

According to police, there are about 240,000 people from the northeast in Bangalore, which has population of nine million. Most people from the region are students, security guards or in the hospitality sector.

Earlier, Shettar met Ashoka and police officials to review the law and order across the state and measures taken to ensure the safety and security of the people from the north-east.

“Bangalore is not only cosmopolitan but also a safe city for anyone, especially those from others states including the northeast,” he said.

“Students from all regions have been living in the city peacefully for over 10-12 years. We have not come across a single incident of attack of any kind on them,” he added.

Earlier, police scotched rumours and dissuaded northeast students from leaving the city, even as even as around 5,000 of them fled to Guwahati by special trains late Wednesday and early Thursday.

“We are assuring students and others from the northeast residing in Bangalore or other parts of Karnataka that they are safe,” Bangalore Deputy Commissioner of Police Vincent S. D’Souza told IANS.

“We are using SMS, social media, TV channels, radio and print media to spike the rumours,” he added.

Wild rumours gripped Karnataka that people from the northeast would be attacked after Id-ul-Fitr Aug 20 to avenge the Assam ethnic violence that left 74 people dead.

“We had to arrange at short notice two special trains of 20-22 coaches each around midnight to Guwahati in addition to the daily Bangalore-Guwahati express and Bangalore-Howrah express because a whopping 6,000 unreserved tickets for northeast bound trains were sold since Wednesday afternoon,” South Western Railway spokesman Suvankar Biswas told IANS.

As regular trains to Howrah and Guwahati were fully booked for over a week due to holidays since Wednesday till Monday, all those desperate to leave the city were forced to buy unreserved tickets and board the first available train to Assam.

“Even those who could not get reservation to Howrah or Guwahati opted to buy tickets up to Chennai so as to catch any northeast bound trains from there. This is the first time we are seeing such a big surge in ticket sale for these trains on a single day,” Biswas said.

The overcrowding of platforms late Wednesday and frantic calls by railway officials for deployment of Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel and police forced Ashoka to rush to the city station and plead with the frenzied students to desist from leaving the city.

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