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 and Hyderabad. Believed to be triggered by rumour mills after the incidents of violence between two communities in Assam, even people from Darjeeling and Sikkim have been sucked up in this unusual vortex joining in the exodus along with people of the North East.
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.
“I get calls from my friends and family members back home asking me to return. Though I have decided to stay back I am really scared. The situation gets worst after dark. I lock the doors and stay indoors” stated Srijana Rai, a College student.
With the exodus both flight and train tickets are available at a premium. “My friends Bhaskar Man Singh and Akriti Rana had to pay a high premium for their flight tickets back to Nepal. Many of my friends from Darjeeling and Sikkim have also left” stated Gyanendra, a College student from Darjeeling. Even students from Nepal who have got nothing to do with the communal strife in Assam, have not been spared the harassment. Similar physical features with the people of North East is the cause of concern.
Back home it is sleepless nights for the parents. “My son is studying in Bangalore. I have asked him to return back to Darjeeling. He can return back to Bangalore once the situation is normal again. Every hour I call him. We are worried for him.” stated Nilima Rai of Darjeeling.
Bimal Gurung, the Chief Executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has written to the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar 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.
Both the Sikkim Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso and the DGP have already contacted their counterparts in Karnataka. They were assured by the Karnataka Government that the situation is under control and that the Government would take all necessary steps to ensure security to the people from Sikkim and North East.
Meanwhile in Bangalore Ministers and top officials of the Karnataka Government are reassuring people of North East. “The panic has been triggered by 99% rumours but we are being very cautious and alert” stated Karnataka Home Minister R Ashok.