Karnataka to probe rumours against northeast people
New Delhi/Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Friday ordered an inquiry into the rumour-mongering about alleged security threats that triggered exodus of people from northeastern states from this tech hub since late Wednesday.
About 240,000 people from the northeast region live in Bangalore and another 100,000 in other cities across Karnataka.
"The chief minister informed members of parliament from the state in New Delhi that he has directed police to investigate the wild rumours against northeast people in Bangalore and alleged threats to their students as a backlash against the ethnic violence in Assam," an official of the Chief Minister's Office told a news agency here.
Though no untoward incident occurred since Thursday and no threat complaint was received by police here, security has been beefed up in sensitive areas across the city.
Police have intensified patrolling in localities populated by northeast people, including college-going students, blue-collar and white-collar employees, security guards and women working in beauty salons.
"We are getting calls regularly on the two helpline numbers set up in the city control room. But they are general, to find out how the situation is, if threat calls are being made, and if anyone has been attacked. No specific complaint against anyone so far," Bangalore Deputy Commissioner of Police (intelligence) Vincent S D'Souza told the news agency.
While the state government, right-wing Hindu outfits like Sri Rama Sena and Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS), Muslim organisations and civil society exhorted the northeast people, especially students, not to leave the city or the state, about 4,500 more of them left late Thursday in four special trains bound for Guwahati in Assam.
"As about 4,600 unreserved tickets were sold till late Thursday, we had to arrange at short notice two special trains of 20 coaches each to Guwahati to clear the extra rush of passengers and attach five more coaches to the two daily trains to northeast stations (Guwahati and Howrah) from the city," South-Western Railway (SWR) spokesman Suvankar Biswas told the agency.
As part of the investigation, cyber sleuths attached to the city police crime branch have started cracking at the sensational messages sent through SMS and MMS, e-mails and postings on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter that caused panic and fear among the people from the region.
"As most of the messages received on mobiles through SMS or MMS are originating from Assam and other northeastern states, Mumbai and Kolkata in Hindi, Assamese and Bengali without names or place from where they were being sent, we are taking the help of all service providers across the country to identify the culprits," D'Souza said.
To stem the exodus, pro-Hindu outfits Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Sri Ram Sena activists rushed to the city railway station and inter-state bus terminal and dissuaded the northeast people from leaving the city.
With the help of non-government organisations and civil society members, the activists have arranged lunch and supper to hundreds of northeast people, including students camping at the railway station for the next elusive train to Guwahati or Howrah.
"The fact that only northeast people/students are getting rumours and not others on their mobiles as SMS or MMS reveals that they are being sent from the north-eastern region to their kith and kin living in Bangalore or other cities of the state," D'Souza said.
A member of the Assam Society of Bangalore admitted that northeast people/students were getting calls and messages from back home (northeast region) to return home at the earliest or before the Ramadan fast ends with Eid-ul-Fitr.
In a related development, police appealed to qazis (priests) in mosques across the city to advise the devout who gather for Friday prayers to maintain peace and not to fall prey to rumours or cause panic among other members, leading to exodus.