Guwahati/Itanagar: As panic and fear, which prompted thousands of people from northeast to flee various parts of the country following "rumours" of backlash against Assam violence, subsides, many of them feel they could have stayed back and are determined to return to their jobs. North-East exodus in pics
Most of the people, who returned to their native states in the last few days, admit they face an uncertain future as employment opportunities are limited - the reason why they left their native states in the first place.
Ujjal Baruah, Rayi Kurmi, Deepak Barman, Prasanta Bhattachjarya and Rumi Borthakur are among an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 people who fled Bangalore alone and returned to their native towns in Assam.
"Once we reached here and looked back at the happenings of the past few days, we realise that there was nothing serious. Maybe we should have stayed back," said Borthakur. This thought also played on the minds of those who returned to Arunachal Pradesh.
"We don’t know about our future. Perhaps we could have stayed back," lamented Techi Boje, a security guard of a private farm in Hyderabad, who reached Itanagar three days ago.
Fleeing to avoid risk
Most say they chose to flee as they did not want to "take any risk" though they themselves did not come across any kind of violence. Minam Tondrang, first year student of Sridevi Engineering Institute at Bangalore who reached Itanagar on Monday morning, said "There is no concrete proof of any attack on people from the Northeastas, but I don't want to take risk so I decided to leave Bangalore."
"I had decided not to move out of Bangalore but my parents forced me to come. Everything is calm in the city and there is no need to panic. But how can I convince my parents?" said Prince Zungrang Lingphi, another first year engineering student from Bangalore.
"On August 13, my roommate Sharmila Bora and I received a text message each from unidentified numbers. We were asked to leave because of what was happening in Assam," said Rumi Borthakur, who hails from Nagaon in central Assam.
She and her friend Bora both study in a private institute in Bangalore. "Naturally, we were frightened and called our parents. There was no question of getting involved with the police. Our parents had only one advice for us -- to return. So we caught the first available train," said Borthakur.
Ujjal Baruah from Nalbari has been working for the past few years at various small hotels and restaurants in Bangalore. "A day after the Azad Maidan incident in Mumbai, some Assamese youths came to have a meal in the restaurant where I work as a waiter. I overheard them speaking about the situation and threats being sent by SMS. I also decided to join the rush back home," Baruah said
Another Nalbari-born youth Deepak Barman said he works as a cook for some Assamese students studying in Bangalore. People also made a beeline to Arunachal Pradesh from some southern states where they are either working or undergoing higher studies. "I reached Itanagar on Sunday from Bangalore as all my class mates from Manipur and other Northeastern states left the city a few days ago. Since the entire hostel is empty, so I decided to leave," Ashin Pangam, a first year engineering student, said.
"I have not left my hostel out of fear, but owing to feeling lonely," she said. Not only students, many of the employees working in various private sector companies in Bangalore and Hyderabad have returned to the state.
MNC employees leave for home
Rickjyoti Batshya, a youth working with HDFC Bank in Bangalore, left the city recently on earned leave to evade any untoward incident. "I came on leave by air spending a large chunk of money as I don’t want to take risk," he said.
"When we the northeasterners never threatened anybody residing in the region, why are we being discriminated against by our own countrymen in other parts?” questioned Tamar Boye, an employee of a private company in Hyderabad.
For Rayi Kurmi from Assam, who works as a clerk in a local firm at Bangalore, the experience of the last few days is bitter. "People outside are generally unaware of the demography of Assam. I belong to the Tea Tribe community which has nothing to do with the recent violence, but in case of any emergency that would not have helped me," Kurmi said as he boarded a bus to his native town Biswanath Charali in Sonitpur after arriving at Guwahati railway station on Monday morning.
The exodus was not limited to only students and those engaged in manual work. Prasanta Bhattacharya of Nagaon works as an accountant in a Bangalore-based firm. It is difficult to figure out what to believe and what not. Since the mob violence in Mumbai, there were all kinds of rumours and after some students from Nagaland and Manipur were thrashed in Pune, the situation turned simply panicky," he said.
There was such a rush that flight tickets were not available or very expensive," Bhattacharya said. However, even though all of them came back home in the past few weeks, a sense of regret seems to have entered their minds.
Efforts by government
Realising their predicament, Arunachal Chief Minister Nabam Tuki sent a goodwill team, headed by Lok Sabha member Takam Sanjoy, to Hyderabad on Sunday for coordinating with the state government in instilling confidence among people from the state.
A group of students from Arunachal met the state goodwill team on Sunday and said that they were safe in the city and there was no effect of the rumours on them, authorities in Itanagar said.
Those who returned to Arunachal and Assam have a common resolve - they have to return to their workplaces. "We have to earn our livelihood, anyway. We cannot afford to stay back and ponder. The opportunities for getting good employment are very few - the reason why we left our places in the first place," was the common refrain.
Guwahati/Itanagar: As panic and fear, which prompted thousands of people from northeast to flee various parts of the country following "rumours" of backlash against Assam violence, subsides, many of them feel they could have stayed back and are determined to return to their jobs.
North-East exodus in pics