Despite the government’s efforts to pacify the situation that has put the people of North East in a tizzy, an air of uncertainty hangs heavy in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai. Gripped by rumour fuelled fears of impending attacks on them, people from North East continued to flee southern cities Bangalore, Pune and Chennai for the third consecutive day on Saturday with hundreds thronging the railway stations and heading back home.
The spectacle of fear-stricken residents from North East swarming Pune railway station in a desperate bid to head for their home states, has had a benumbing effect on the second capital of Maharashtra which is still coming to terms with what could have been a potentially catastrophic serial bomb explosions a few days back.
Despite stepped up efforts by authorities, social organisations and help groups to remove the fear stalking hundreds of students and workers from Assam and Manipur, rattled by beastly attacks in the last four days in Kondhwa, Hadapsar and Cantonment areas of the city, they continued to make a beeline towards the railway station.
Their only goal for the time being appeared to catch “Azad Hind Express” that leaves the city every evening for Howrah.
“We are returning as our parents are worried. I will come back but as of now I am leaving with nine of my friends from Imphal,” said a female student at the railway station.
Police believe that doctored MMS and SMS were the main provocation behind the attacks since August 12 in which about 15 NE residents in certain localities were targeted.
Two of the 13 persons arrested by police reportedly confessed that the MMS and SMS that depicted violent incidents in Myanmar and Assam turned them vengeful, sources said.
After approaching Facebook, Youtube and Google to remove some “objectionable links” and five videos in respect of the Assam violence, city police have now filed a complaint against “unknown persons” under the IT act, accusing them of exploiting the social networking sites to spread offensive false and intimidating messages.
According to city police commissioner Gulabrao Pol, who has circulated a message in the city guaranteeing safety of NE people asking them not to heed rumours, the situation had been totally under control after police swung into action to book the culprit.
Exodus continues in Chennai
The Central Railway station here has been seeing a flow of anxious North Easterners desperate to get tickets for their onward journey in spite of assurances of safety and no untoward incident targetting them being reported.
Police said though Tamil Nadu has never seen incidents of violence against people from the North East, reports of incidents and rumours in other states seem to be disturbing their parents back home, who want them to come back.
Chennai City Police has set up a round-the-clock control room and helplines exclusively for North Easterners.
However, not many students are leaving the city. “The city’s colleges have many students from the North East on the rolls, most of whom are living in the hostels or in groups. So not many of them feel the need to leave,” a student from the North East who did not wish to be named, said.
In a bid to reach out to the fleeing North Easterners, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa has assured them that the state was peaceful and that her government would take steps to ensure their safety.