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6,800 NE people flee Bangalore, Centre warns rumour mongers

Bangalore, Aug 16: Fear-struck people from the northeast continued to flee the city for the second day today as the Karnataka government assured them safety and launched confidence building measures, including police patrolling in areas
PTI August 16, 2012 19:50 IST
PTI
Bangalore, Aug 16: Fear-struck people from the northeast continued to flee the city for the second day today as the Karnataka government assured them safety and launched confidence building measures, including police patrolling in areas largely inhabited by them.




A day after 6,800 people from the northeast left the city by jam-packed trains, the main railway station here was chock-a-block with hundreds from the region eager to return to their homes, in the backdrop of rumours of an impending attack on them in the aftermath of the Assam violence.

“There is nothing to worry. The entire government is with you. We will protect the interests of the northeast people,” Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told representatives of organisations of people from the region at his official residence.

Speaking to reporters after chairing a high-level meeting, Shettar admitted there have been some stray incidents (against members of the community) but the police could not act as there had not been any complaints.

Asked to elaborate on these “stray incidents”, Home Minister and Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka intervened to say that it's a “sensitive issue”, and could not be divulged as the matter concerns the entire country and also different states as he named Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad.  Ashoka said 6,800 people from the northeast left Bangalore last night by special trains.

In Delhi, the Centre said there was no threat to anyone from the region living anywhere in the country and warned of strict action against rumour mongers.

“If rumours are spread, strict action will be taken against those who indulge in such activities,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters.

Extra trains to Assam have been pressed into service to help people who wanted to leave Karnataka, Shinde said, asserting that the situation in the state was peaceful. 

On reports that people from the northeast were attacked in other parts of the country, Home Secretary R K Singh said in Delhi, “There is no threat to the people of the northeast in any part of the country.”

“If rumours are spread, strict action will be taken against those who indulge in such activities,” Shinde told reporters outside Parliament House. 

He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he had spoken to Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, requesting him to ask the people to share information on rumour mongers. 

Extra trains have been pressed into service for Assam to help people who wanted to leave Karnataka, Shinde said, asserting that the situation in the state was peaceful. 

Reacting to reports that people from the north east were attacked in other parts of the country, Home Secretary R K Singh said in Delhi,

“There is no threat to the people of the north east in any part of the country.” Singh said he had spoken to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Karnataka Police and they had informed him that there was no incident of attack on anyone from the region anywhere in the state. 

Two Assam-bound special trains were operated late last night in addition to the regular service to clear the sudden rush of passengers triggered by the rumours in the wake of one incident of attack on people from the north east in Pune in the wake of violence in Assam.

Railway officials had said in Bangalore yesterday that they had sold over 5,000 tickets for north eastern destinations.

Shinde said 300 people left last night and two extra trains have been pressed into service today for Assam. 

The stabbing of a Tibetan student by two motorcycle-borne men in Mysore on August 14 added to the fears of the north eastern people whom the government and police are trying to convince that they are safe in the state. 

State DGP Lalrokhuma Pachuau, who himself is from the north eastern state of Manipur, told PTI that the exact number of people who fled the city was not known as many bound for Guwahati were regular passengers, and not those leaving following the rumours.

Concerned over the development, the Prime Minister spoke last night to Shettar who assured him that steps were being taken to give protection to the people from the north east. 

Besides the Prime Minister, Shinde and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi also spoke to Shettar on the issue. 

The Union Home Secretary said, “Last night when I got an information that some people from Assam were under threat in Karnataka, I rang up the DGP and checked up with him... There is nothing.

“When people thronged the (Bangalore) railway station to go to the north east, the Home Minister of Karnataka himself went there and told them that there is nothing. So the rumour mongering has to be stopped. Some people are spreading rumours,” he said.

A small group of people at the Bangalore railway station said, “We are expecting the railway authorities to make an announcement of arranging special trains to Guwahati. We want to be with our families in Assam. We have been informed that some people are planning to attack us....

“We do not want to take any risk as nobody comes to our rescue when we are attacked,” Monica and others from the north eastern region said as they waited at the railway station this morning.