Guwahati/Rangiya: For the 1,700-odd people who reached Assam this morning in two special trains from Bangalore, the decision to return home was driven by rumours rather than any direct physical threat.
All of them - students and professionals - hoped that the situation would return to normal soon so that they would be able to return to their place of work or education in the big cities of south and west India.
"Nobody threatened me, nor do I know of any acquaintance who was directly threatened to leave. But there were lots of rumours, lots of hearsay," said Niranjan Mushahary after getting down at Rangiya station.
Mushahary, hailing from Khoirabari in Udalguri district, has spent a few years in Bangalore where he works in a private firm.
Around 600 passengers got off at the Rangiya station, while the rest alighted at Guwahati.
Ramen Narzari from Goreshwar, who works as a security guard in Bangalore, said people from Assam and other northeastern states were in a state of panic after news spread that they would be targeted in a big way after Eid-ul-Fitr.
"My family members at home asked me to return, even if for a short time," he said.
Kamrup (Rural) district administration made security and transport arrangements for all the returnees to their homes from Rangiya railway station. All Bodo Students` Union district president Paresh Chandra Bodo was at the station to receive the returnees.
There was a stampede-like situation at Guwahati railway
station as the trains rolled in.
Biswajit Saharia, who stays in Chennai, said there was no incident against any person from the northeast till he boarded the train.
"However, people from the northeast are worried. One cannot take any chance in such circumstances."
"After the violence at Mumbai`s Azad Maidan on August 10, rumours started flying thick and fast. And then came the reports of some students from the northeast being physically assaulted in Pune which created panic."
RSS cadres were seen distributing food packets and water at the station.
Another returnee Kamaljyoti Talukdar, who had gone to Secunderabad some months ago and was employed as a watchman, said the news about assault on people from Assam had frightened him and he decided to return.
He said those fleeing from Hyderabad and Secunderabad had a tough time as most of the trains were totally packed.
On the other hand, students and professionals who have stayed back in Bangalore and other affected states say they will not return.
"We have not heard of anything. I am continuing to stay here because going back will send a wrong signal," Nikita Hazarika, a student in a Bangalore college, said.
"The exodus is mostly among the labour class people who without checking the credentials of the so called threats have rushed backed to Assam," she said over phone.