Bangalore:  Appeals and assurances of safety by the Karnataka government notwithstanding, people from North East continued to flee the state in hordes for the third consecutive day on Friday, driven by rumours of impending attacks.

Home Minister allays fear among NE people

The exodus so far confined to Bangalore has now spread to some other parts with people of the North Eastern region living in Mysore, Mangalore and Kodagu arriving here in trains and buses and rushing to railway counters to buy tickets.

More than 15,000 people have fled the city in the past two days following the rumours, official sources said on Friday. .

The Railways had sold 9,718 tickets for the two special trains that headed to Guwahati on Thursday night, Divisional Railway Manager, Bangalore, Anil Kumar Agarwal, said on Friday morning.

Officials estimate the number of people from the northeast, including students, residing in Bangalore in the range of 2.5 lakh and 2.75 lakh.

The government continued to reach out to the community urging them to stay on and assured them that it is committed to safeguarding their lives and property in Karnataka.

The Intelligence Bureau and state police are yet to ascertain the source of the rumours.

The State Home Department has ordered surveillance of social media sites to check for people who are distorting facts and circulating false information.

Suresh Kumar also requested Shettar, who is in Delhi on Friday, to urge Railways to arrange for as many special trains as possible to clear the rush as he expects more people from the North East to leave.

After Karnataka, mass exodus from Maharashtra

Even as authorities brought the situation under control in Karnataka, people from Assam and other northeastern states began to exit Maharashtra, officials said.

Since early this week, an estimated 1,500 have returned home from Mumbai, Pune and Nashik, police and railway officials said.

While over 300 Assamese left early on Thursday from Pune and Nashik each, another 400 quit Mumbai on Wednesday.

Pune Assistant Commissioner of Police Sanjeev Singhal said there was no cause for people to leave.

"They are apparently influenced by some MMSes being circulated," he said.

Last week, at least 10 people from the northeast, mostly students, were brutally beaten, sending shockwaves in the community.
Thirteen people have been nabbed for the attacks.

According to Paban Kumar Kataky, president of the Assam Association of Mumbai, about 15,000 Assamese live, work or study in Mumbai. Another 5,000 are in Pune and Nashik each.

Besides, there are around 10,000 people from the other northeastern states spread out across Mumbai and Maharahstra.

Kataky said that a majority of them worked with private companies or in the hospitality industry. The young were mainly students.

Don’t get misled by rumours: Home Minister

After a telephonic conversation with the Prime Minister, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde urged people from the northeast living in Karnataka not to be misled by rumours.

Provide security to North East people: PM

The Prime Minister told Shettar and Shinde to provide security to people from the northeast, Manmohan Singh's office said.
Officials said hundreds had decided to stay back in the city.

Vested interest behind rumours: Sonia Gandhi

On Thursday, a group of Congress MPs from the northeast met party chief Sonia Gandhi. One MP said that Gandhi shared their concern and blamed "vested interests" for the rumours.

Don’t leave Bangalore: Karnataka CM

Shettar appealed to northeastern people not to leave Karnataka.

"We on behalf of people of Karnataka and Government once again reassure the people of the North-Eastern Community that they are safe and welcomed in Karnataka", the Government said in an advertisement, signed by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and Home Minister R Ashoka, published in newspapers on Friday.

The Government said no violent incidents have been reported. "We thereby urge not to heed to rumours and rest assured that stringent security measures have been deployed to prevent any untoward incidents".

Strict action would be taken against anyone spreading rumours. "We also request the north-eastern media not to go by unconfirmed reports which can create further fear and confusion," Shettar and Ashoka said.

"The exodus of Northeast people from the city is not due to threat factor, but due to anxiety to be with their parents at a time when Assam has been gripped by violence," Law and Parliamentary Minister S Suresh Kumar said.

Official sources said Railways have arranged a special train to Guwahati which would leave in the afternoon. "Looking at the demand for tickets to northeastern states, we may arrange some more special trains," a railway official said.

Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Home Minister R Ashok, DGP Lalrokhuma Pachau, himself from the North Eastern state of Mizoram, and Bangalore Police Commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirji have repeatedly assured the North Eastern people of their safety, but rumours have overwhelmed them.


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