It is sheer fear fuelled by rumour mills that has prompted North-east people like Disen Basumataray, a technology student from Kokrajhar in Assam, to leave the city as they huddled together at the railway station here eager to get back to their homes.
Though the Bangalore-Guwahati Express leaves around midnight, many have reached the station since the wee hours considering it to be a safe haven than their temporary homes.
If it was Home Minister R. Ashoka who was rushed by an anxious government to the railway station last night to persuade them to stayback, it was the turn of Law Minister Suresh Kumar today to continue the effort.
Suresh Kumar urged the North-east people not to leave the city as no incident of attack on the community had taken place. “There have been no incidents of attack on North-east people. There has been no single complaint filed in this regard,” he said.
But the fear still lurks and those like Disen feel reaching their home alone would ensure peace for them.
“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 Basumataray, who arrived at the station at 5 am, said.
He along with his three other friends are heading to Kokrajhar, ironically a place that reported fresh violence today.
Sazib Masahary, another technology student from Assam studying here, said he wanted to go back to his native since his parents asked him to do so.
“My parents asked me to come back to give them support in the wake of violence there. Also I feel unsafe here, inspite of the government giving us assurances,” he said.
Rajeev, an employee working at a fishing company, said he was returning home after his friends and relatives told him about an attack on a North-east person near Bidadi on the city outskirts, an apparent rumour.
Members belonging to various organisations, including RSS and ABVP, have set up counters at the railway station trying to convince the fleeing North-east people that Karnataka was much safer than Assam.
Suresh Kumar said 11 additional coaches would be attached to today’s train to Guwahati.
A top railway official said, “If there is a rush like yesterday, we have to think of arranging a special train.” The official also said the railways had yesterday sold about 6,000 tickets for North-east destinations.
South Western Railway spokesman Suvankar Biswas said they were opting to buy tickets up to Chennai so as to catch any North-east-bound train from there.
Bangalore Deputy Commissioner of Police (Intelligence) Vincent S D’Souza said police are using SMS, Facebook, Twitter, television channels, radio and other media to spike the rumours.
A large number of people from the North-east, including students, reside in Karnataka, particularly in Bangalore where they are employed in call centres, hotels, beauty parlours and private security services, among others.