Overcome by a sense of fear after rumours of attacks and fuelled by the exodus from Bangalore, North-Easterners here are also leaving the city, even as police assured them that they were safe.

Railway officials acknowledged a spurt in ticket sales but did not want to definitely say if this was a Bangalore-type exodus.

“Around 700 tickets have been sold (since last night). This number is certainly abnormal compared to the usual ticket sales trends,” railway officials said, adding additional train services had been operated since August 16.

They also pointed to the regular migration, in and out of Chennai, of North-Eastern States-based labourers, especially from Assam and Odisha.

On Thursday, hundreds of people from the North-East thronged Egmore Railway station here, waiting to board trains for Guwahati that left early today.

“There is no need for any apprehension... there has been no instance of any violence. They don’t need to panic. We see only regular movement of people,” Police Commissioner J. K. Tripathy maintained, denying any exodus.

With a sizeable number of North-Easterners employed in the hospitality and construction sectors in Chennai, some are opting to leave as they don’t want to take a chance, official sources said.

Hotel employee Rajesh said his friends from Bangalore had expressed apprehensions that Chennai would be next in line (of alleged attacks), even though no incident had been reported in Chennai or elsewhere in Tamil Nadu.

Police said there was no incident of violence targeting North-Eastern persons and assured them that Chennai is safe for them.

Many from the North-East, mostly students of popular city colleges, preferred to stay back, confident that the city is not prone to communal attacks.

(This article was published on August 17, 2012)
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