Gripped by fear over their safety following sporadic attacks targeting those from the North East in Pune, several hundred people from the region living in Maharashtra are believed to have fled to their respective States over the last few days.

Though there are no official data about the number of people who have left the State in the wake of the Pune incidents, the BJP-led Opposition claimed over 6,000 had headed back to their States. In Nashik, about 400 people, mostly from Assam, are reported to have boarded the Kurla-Guwahati Express at Nashik Road station Friday morning.

Most of them, working as labourers in industrial units at Dindori, Nashik and Silvasa, said they were returning to their States as a precaution or due to pressure from their families back home.

They denied having received any SMS or MMS warning about a threat to their security. Deputy Commissioner of Police and Mumbai Police spokesman Nisar Tamboli said all police stations in the city have been asked to be vigilant to ensure there was no persecution or harassment of people from the northeastern states.

“The police stations have been asked to be on alert and treat even a small complaint seriously,” he said.

However, the BJP has claimed that thousands of people from the region had fled Mumbai, Pune and other cities for their native States in the last three-four days. “Yesterday itself, around 3,200 left from Kurla station in Mumbai. Around 3,000 have fled from Pune, 800 in Nashik and around a 100 in Ahmednagar,” State BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said.

“The Patna-bound train in Pune yesterday was crowded with people from North East and today the Central Railway has added three extra bogies to Assam-bound train,” Bhandari claimed, adding, “it is a matter of shame for entire Maharashtra.”

A Central Railway spokesman, however, said that in Mumbai they have not arranged for special trains or additional coaches in North East-bound trains as there was “no need” to do so.

The August 1 blasts in Pune, August 11 riots in Mumbai and the cases of people from the North East fleeing Maharashtra after attacks are all linked, he said and accused the State Government of being a mute spectator.

(This article was published on August 17, 2012)
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