The rumor-fueled exodus of the people of North-East India from the South Indian states continues unabated for the fourth day, as assurances of safety by the central and state governments fail to assuage the fear of impending attacks among the people.
The mass departure started after text messages were circulated warning the northeasterners to leave the cities before the festival of Eid ul Fitr, which falls on Aug.19. The messages sent by anonymous persons threatened imminent attacks on the northeasterners as revenge for the ongoing violent clashes in Assam.
The respective state governments have taken measures to assure the safety of the northeasterners in the cities. Additional security has been provided and police forces have been deployed in colleges and residential areas inhabited by the North East (NE) community. Police patrol has been intensified in areas frequented by the NE community.
The government also banned Friday the mass texting and MMS sending facility in the country for two weeks. However, the measures do not seem to have had much of an effect as the people are still heading toward the railway stations. A rumor about an assault on one member of the NE community in Secunderabad worsened the situation further.
The NE students speaking to the media said that they were being called home by parents, who were worried after hearing the reports of possible attacks.
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"We are returning as our parents are worried. I will come back but as of now I am leaving with nine of my friends from Imphal," said a female student at the Pune railway station, the PTI reported.
The people from North East Indian states of Manipur, Assam and Tripura have distinct facial features which they fear make them an easy target for the miscreants.
The NE exodus from Bangalore has reportedly dropped since Friday, but in other cities, anxious people are heading home to the North East. Railway authorities in Bangalore said that the Indian Railways had arranged eight special trains along with the three regular trains in the past three days, which have ferried around 30,000 people to the North East, PTI reported.
The police have arrested three employees of a supermarket in Bangalore for allegedly attacking the northeasterners and for sending threatening text messages. The Bangalore police said that the attackers on interrogation said that they were provoked to attack the northeasterners after watching a doctored MMS clipping of the Assam violence, DNA reported.
Thousands of people from North East Indian states reside in cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune on employment and for education. The violent clashes between the ethnic Bodos and the migrant Bangladeshi population in the state of Assam has left at least 80 dead and over 200,000 displaced so far.
The ongoing violence has spread panic in rest of the country as certain groups started circulating provoking morphed video messages on Assam violence, triggering the attacks in Pune against the people from the NE states. Although no cases of assault or violence have been reported against the NE community from other cities, the rumors of impending attacks have forced thousands to flee.