Karnataka CM holds high-level meet as Northeast people flee Bangalore
Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Thursday held a high-level meeting in the wake of exodus of people from the Northeast amid rumours of planned attack against them.
The CM convened the meeting as over 5,000 panic-stricken people from northeastern states fled Bangalore on Wednesday night.
Two Assam-bound special trains were operated late last night in addition to the regular service to clear the sudden rush of passengers triggered by the rumours in the wake of some attacks on northeastern people in some parts of the country in the Assam violence backlash.
Today also, railway officials said they would run more special trains for those wishing to travel to the Northeast, if the situation demands.
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 whom the government and police are trying to convince that they are safe in the state.
However, state DGP Lalrokhuma Pachuau, who himself is from northeastern state of Manipur, said today that the exact number of people who fled the city was not known as many bound for Guwahati were regular passengers, and not those leaving following the rumours.
The Karnataka Police have also released a dedicated helpline number for the people from Northeast: 9480801020.
Sources in the Chief Minister's Office said that Shettar would today discuss with the officials the exodus and find solutions to tide over the fresh problem.
A small group of people at the railway station said, "We are expecting the railway authorities to make an announcement of arranging special trains to Guwahati. We want to be with our families in Assam. We have been informed that some people are planning to attack us as our community was attacked in Mumbai and other parts of the country.
"We do not want to take any risk as nobody comes to our rescue when we are attacked," Monica and others from her region said in unison as they waited at the railway station this morning.
The situation was seriously viewed by the Centre with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking to Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who in his Independence Day address assured people from the Northeast of security.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde also spoke to Shettar on phone Wednesday night and was understood to have asked him to ensure the safety of people from northeastern states in Karnataka.
Shettar said that he told the Prime Minister and the Home Minister that "there is no untoward incident nor is there any threat to people of northeastern states. I promised that necessary steps would be taken to give protection to these people".
Shettar assured protection and deputed Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka, who also holds Home portfolio, to instill confidence in the panic-stricken people and convince them not to leave the city.
The Chief Minister said police officials have been using public address system at the Bangalore City railway station to reassure the northeastern people gathered there and assured them protection.
Shettar said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi also spoke to him over phone and he assured him that all possible assistance and protection would be given to his state people.
Gogoi today appealed to the people from Northeast not to give in to rumours and panic. "There is panic amongst our students and people across India. A lot of rumours are doing the rounds; this is creating panic amongst the people. There is no need to panic, people should not give in to rumours," Gogoi said.
Also today, MPs from the Northeast will meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to discuss the situation.