Bangalore/Guwahati, Aug 18 (IBNS): The exodus of northeast Indians from various parts of the country, fearing for their safety, subsided partially on Saturday, as reassurances of security flowed from various corners.
Thousands of northeast Indians residing in Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and other cities had begun fleeing to their home states this week after reports and rumours of imminent attacks on them stemming from the ethnic violence in Assam.
The number of people fleeing Karnataka appeared to subside on Saturday after the police made several arrests and chief minister Jagadish Shettar promised order, however the exodus from Pune and Hyderabad continued, media reports said.
In Bangalore, railway officials said the number of those queueing up to leave the city had dwindled following assurances from the Centre, state government and strict vigil in the city with the deployment of six companies of the Rapid Action Force.
About 30,000 people hailing from the northeast have left the city in the last three days, reports estimated, even as at least 21 people were said to have been arrested in the last two days on charges of rumour-mongering and assaults.
Police patrolling has been stepped up in Bangalore in areas prominently inhabited by people from the northeastern states, officials said.
In Chennai, people from northeast continued to exit the city for the third day with hundreds thronging the railway station and heading back home while in Pune fear-stricken residents crowded the train ticket counters in large numbers.
The Centre on Saturday said adequate protection is being given by state governments to the northeast people and termed as "false" and "fabricated" reports that claimed otherwise.
“Some miscreants, undesirable elements and anti-social elements are spreading rumours that there is no protection to people of the northeast in South India. It is unwarranted. It is totally false and fabricated to create panic among people,” minister of state in the PMO V Narayanasamy told reporters.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi meanwhile on Saturday urged the people from Northeast (NE) region to return as they continued to flee from different cities of India to Guwahati.
''I am telling everyone who is coming back to return. The government of Karnataka has assured full protection. I want all of them to go back as soon as possible," Gogoi told NDTV.
"We will arrange for special trains from here to southern states whenever they want," he said.
Gogoi's made the appeal on a day when thousands of young professionals and students working or studying in various Indian cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune arrived in Guwahati on Saturday morning in packed trains.
Those arriving from various Indian cities on special trains said rumours of possible attacks on them apart, many of them had been threatened in person.
While some of them were too scared to go back, many said they would have to return after things cooled down.
In Kolkata throngs of youngsters from northeast were seen waiting for hours to catch a train to Guwahati from Kolkata's Howrah station after they fled cities like Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad
According to reports, the panic amongst the northeast community erupted in the past couple of days leading to mass exodus after SMSes and chain mails warning people from Northeast region of a backlash following the Assam riots started doing rounds.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday banned bulk Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) across the country for 15 days in the wake of mass exodus of people belonging to Northeast region of the country from different cities following rumours.
A cellphone user can send a message to not more than five persons for the next 15 days.
Cutting across party lines, lawmakers in Indian parliament on Friday assured the people of Northeast that they would make best efforts to protect them anywhere in the country.
"The parliament stands united in protecting you" went the message from Prime Minister to Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the country belongs to the people of Northeast as much as anybody else and assured them of all safety in the wake of the Assam situation that triggered an exodus of the region's people settled in other parts of India.
"This country belongs to them as to any one of us," the PM told Parliament amid reports of mass exodus from cities like Bangalore where the Northeast students and professionals stay in large number for work and studies.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha (BJP) Sushma Swaraj raised the issue and demanded security of the people.
"Make helplines and give them numbers. Post police near malls. We should tell the people of Northeast that you are our brother and sister and we will protect you. You would not go anywhere, this is your country," said Swaraj.
Swaraj urged the people of Northeast to not leave cities of their work and in an impassioned appeal said the country "stands by them."
At least 78 people were killed in the Assam violence between Bodos and Muslim settlers since July and countless were rendered homeless and sheltered in relief camps.