The “great exodus” had left one section of northeasterners literally unmoved — white collar workers and students.
Firmly clutching their cellphones and laptops, they stayed put wherever they were – Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad or Pune.
Those who left belonged mostly to the service industry — restaurant workers, parking lot attendants, salespersons, security guards and beauty parlour workers.
Education apparently counters the fear factor.
In Chennai, MA student Somitem Reshing, software engineer Soram Dilbir and IT employee Gargee Dutta scoffed at the idea of going home to Manipur or Assam.
“We never felt the need to go anywhere, now or anytime before,” said Dilbir. “Chennai is absolutely safe,” said Somitem.
It helps that people like Somitel or Dilbir live in gated communities with proper security systems. Those who left are less likely to have a support system, said Madhumati Dutta, a social worker dealing with migrants.
In Hyderabad, the immediate provocation for the exodus was the attack on a blue-collar worker in Anjaiah Nagar, which has a large Muslim population. There was a fear of reprisal, which white collar workers who live in mixed localities, did not face.
In Bangalore, there was no exodus from posh localities like Jayanagar, Sadashivanagar, BTM Layout and Indiranagar. Instead, blue collar workers from lower-middle class areas — Vivek Nagar, Halasur, Madiwala, Hulimavu and Yashavanthapura where the Muslim population is also high — left in droves.
Students found assurance from the college and university authorities, who promised them police security.
In fact, the positive attitude and atmosphere of metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata ensured there was no fear.
“Frantic telephone calls did come from home, citing the problems in cities like Bangalore,” admitted Louis Zhimomi, who has been living in Kolkata for three years. “But here, we face no problems in colleges or workplaces, markets or movie theatres.”