Bangalore: Fear-struck people from the north-East continued to flee the city for the second day on Thursday as the Karnataka government assured them safety and launched confidence building measures, including police patrolling in areas largely inhabited by them.
A day after 6,800 people from the north-East left the city by jam-packed trains, the main railway station here was chock-a-block with hundreds from the region eager to return to their homes, in the backdrop of rumours of an impending attack on them in the aftermath of the Assam violence.
"There is nothing to worry. The entire government is with you. We will protect the interests of the north-East people," Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told representatives of organisations of people from the region at his official residence.
Speaking to reporters after chairing a high-level meeting, Shettar admitted there have been some stray incidents (against members of the community) but the police could not act as there had not been any complaints.
Asked to elaborate on these "stray incidents", Home Minister and Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka intervened to say that it`s a "sensitive issue", and could not be divulged as the matter concerns the entire country and also different states as he named Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Ashoka said 6,800 people from the north-East left Bangalore last night by special trains.
In Delhi, the Centre said there was no threat to anyone from the region living anywhere in the country and warned of strict action against rumour mongers.
"If rumours are spread, strict action will be taken against those who indulge in such activities," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters.
Extra trains to Assam have been pressed into service to help people who wanted to leave Karnataka, Shinde said, asserting that the situation in the state was peaceful.
On reports that people from the north-East were attacked in other parts of the country, Home Secretary R K Singh said in Delhi, "There is no threat to the people of the northeast in any part of the country."
Ashoka said a probe has been launched to track elements
spreading the rumours. "On who spread the rumours, an identification process is on. For different reasons, we don`t want to say (reveal)," he said.
Shettar announced a helpline and appointment of nodal officer to address issues concerning people from northeast.
Ashoka said police have started patrolling in areas where people of northeast are in large numbers. Police have been instructed to safeguard the belongings of people who fled their homes in panic.
"I request the northeast media not to go by unconfirmed news which could create panic," he said.
Shettar said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Shinde, Leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Naban Tuki spoke to him over phone on the development.
He said he assured them that the state government was taking all care and precautionary steps.
State DGP Lalrokhuma Pachuau, who is from Mizoram, said not a single case of assault or verbal threat against people from northeast was reported in the state.
After Ashoka last night, it was the turn of Law Minister Suresh Kumar to be present in the railway station today to dissuade the people from fleeing the city. "There has been no incidents of attack on northeast people," he said.
The station saw steady arrival of the panic-stricken people right from the wee hours today.
"We are in a state of panic after rumours that our community will be attacked. It is better to come to railway station than live in the city. I feel relaxed and safe at the railway station," Disen, a technology student, said reflecting the mood of his community people.
Various organisations, including RSS, have set up counters at the railway station trying to convince those fleeing the city that they are safe in Karnataka even as they arranged for thousands of food packets for them.
The stabbing of a Tibetan student by two motorcycle-borne men in Mysore on August 14 added fuel to the fears of the northeastern people, a large number of whom are in Bangalore employed with call centres, hotels, beauty parlours and private security services among others.
Shettar said the mass exodus of people from northeastern states from Bangalore following rumours is a serious issue. "However, no violent incidents of any sort had been reported. There is no room for feeling of insecurity," he said.
The chief minister said his government assures full protection to those hailing from the northeastern region including the student community and the working class.
"There is no reason to panic and I appeal to them not to heed to rumours," he said.
All help and assistance will be given by the government at any cost, he said.
"Karnataka is safer than Assam and I therefore appeal to the panicked people of northeastern states to stay back in Karnataka."
Meanwhile, railway officials announced that two special trains would be operated today to clear the rush of passengers bound for northeastern states.