Guwahati/Kolkata Aug 18 (IBNS): Throngs of youngsters from Northeast waiting for hours to catch a train to Guwahati from Kolkata's Howrah station after they fled cities like Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad tells a tell-tale story of fear that gripped the community after Assam violence repercussions were felt outside the NE state.
While thousands of young professionals and students working or studying in various Indian cities arrive in Guwahati on Saturday since morning in packed trains, it is a story of Indians becoming aliens in their own land.
"We were literally threatened and so we left," said 28-year-old Damodar Brahma, who used to work in a Pune company.
Pune witnessed sporadic attacks on people from the Northeast by some Muslim groups.
"We are being beaten up there. I want to go back to once things cooled down," he said, speaking to IBNS.
"I am going back to my home in Barpeta in Assam," said Brahma, who was fed and taken care of at Howrah station on Saturday in a camp set up by the Hindu nationalist group RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).
Manabjyoti Saikia, another 22 year old who left Bangalore for his hometown in Dibrugarh, said he left the Karnataka capital despite assurance of protection only because he was threatened by a group which asked him to leave or face consequences.
In Guwahati, 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.
Five people were arrested on Friday in Bangalore for allegedly spreading rumours with the intention of creating panic amongst people from the north-eastern states in the wake of ethno-communal violence in Assam.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar warned again that the police are still looking for those who are trying to disturb the peace by deliberately misreporting facts.
Thousands residing in Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore, have begun heading back to their home states.
According to reports, the panic erupted in the past couple of days leading to mass exodus after SMSes and chain mails warning people from Northeast region 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.
This incident suggests that the bond between the two communities is still intact. The sad part is that violence has happened and it is more than a month now. There is a conspiracy working behind fomenting the violence. Now, the biggest challenge is to bring peace in BTC and everyone should work fo