The Centre on Saturday said adequate protection is being given by state governments in the South to people of the North East fleeing on rumours of attacks and termed as "false" and "fabricated" reports that they are not being provided enough security.
"Protection is being given by state governments. Some miscreants, undesirable elements and anti-social elements are spreading rumours that there is no protection to people of the North East in South India. It is unwarranted. It is totally false and fabricated to create panic among people", minister of state in the PMO V Narayanasamy told reporters in New Delhi.
Noting that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had told the North Easterners they have "as much right" as anybody else to study and work in any part of the country, he said, "They will be given protection by the (respective) state governments".
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.
30000 left Bangalore
The exodus of North Easterners from the city to their home states on fears of attacks showed signs of subsiding on the fourth day on Saturday since they started fleeing, according to indications from Railway authorities.
In confidence building measures, six companies of Rapid Action Force have been deployed, besides increased police patrolling in areas prominently inhabited by people from the North Eastern states, official sources said.
Even as a few hundreds of North East people waited outside the city railway station to leave for their home states, fearing reprisals for the Assam violence, railway authorities this morning did not announce any special trains.
They said it is too early to take a call to arrange for special trains unless ticket sales reaches a cut off point of 2,500 a day.
"Based on ticket sales, we will arrange for special trains. As of now sales have been slow paced."
However, they said they would take steps to arrange for special trains if ticket sales increase through the day as it did on Friday on Friday.
They said eight special trains had been arranged in the last three days, apart from three regular trains which had ferried nearly 30,000 people to their home states.
Cracking the whip in the wake of the exodus, police arrested six persons yesterday on charges of attack, intimidation and sending "false" SMSes to people of the region.
Assam Ministers Chandan Brahma and Nilamoni Sen Deka, who are in the city, had said on Friday they were impressed with the steps taken by the government to safeguard the interests of people from the North East.
Pune faces similar situation
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 in the city has been seeing a flow of anxious northeast people 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.
SMS 'rumour' in Delhi
Mischievous text messages claiming that people from the north-east will be targeted in Delhi, particularly after Ramzan, have started circulating with police today urging the community not to believe in them and stating that adequate security measures have been taken.
"Fake SMSes about north-eastern people being targeted in Delhi, particularly after Ramzan, are being circulated. Do not believe them. Situation is normal. There is no violence against people from north-east," Robin Hibu, Joint Commissioner of Police, said.
He said police have reviewed the security for North-East people with senior officials in district, Special Branch and PCR.
Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar tweeted late last night, "Friends from NE please do not go by rumours being spread. They are rumours and only rumours. Please discard them. We are with you. No need to panic."
"Situation is peaceful. Highest alert is on. Police had meetings with North-East residents in Janakpuri, Mahipalpur, Munirka, Mukherjee Nagar for proper coordination of security.
"More visible patrolling in north-east dominated areas is continuing. Any rumours just dial 100, inform local police," Hibu said.
If anyone has any doubt, he said, one can contact him at phone numbers 011-25315003 and 9810083486 or on his email firstname.lastname@example.org.
His remarks came as a large number of people from the north east left Bangalore, Chennai and Pune following rumours that they will be attacked in the wake of Assam violence.
On Saturday, Kumar said said there was no reason for them to panic or leave the capital.
"(We) wish to assure all people from the north east that (there is) no reason whatsoever to panic or leave Delhi. Please report any disturbing incident to us. We are with you for help," Kumar tweeted.
Darjeeling, Sikkim feel the heat
There is a sizable population from Darjeeling, Sikkim and Nepal studying and working in South cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Talking to HT from Bangalore, Arun (name changed on request) a College student hailing from Sikkim stated “Everything is so uncertain here. We just don’t understand what to believe and what not to. While the authorities tell us that the unwarranted situation has been created by rumor mills they also tell us to be careful. Most of the people studying or working in Bangalore are remaining mainly indoors and do not venture out after dark. There have been a few isolated incidents where people from the North East and even Darjeeling have been threatened”.
Arun while returning back from football practice had been warned by the auto rickshaw driver that the situation would get out of hand after August 20. “The driver warned that that it would be better that we leave” added Arun. Though Arun has decided to stay put in Bangalore, his life is not as carefree as before.
Bimal Gurung, the chief executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has written to the Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, requesting for protection and adequate security for the people of Darjeeling residing in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune. A copy of this letter has also been sent to Samar Ghosh, chief secretary, Government of West Bengal.
Meanwhile, the government of Sikkim has asked the Government of Karnataka to provide adequate security to the Sikkimese. This comes on the wake of anxious parents and the civil society approaching Jasbir Singh, Director General of Police, Sikkim. They provided names of locations where Sikkimese students live in Karnataka.
(With inputs from HT, PTI, IANS)K'taka: 6 nabbed for fuelling communal tension