Rumour is Villain in Bangalore
Nearly 15,000 people from the North- East flee the city as they fear for their lives
As Bangaloreans watched with shock and horror, nearly 15,000 people from the North- East left for their home states on August 15 and 16 in the biggest ever exodus seen here, triggered by an Internet and SMS hate campaign against them.
Stories of many small tiffs between locals and people from the North- East are trickling through, with some NorthEasterners claiming that their landlords had suggested to them that they should go away for some time. A stabbing attempt on a Tibetan in Mysore on April 13 is also said to have caused fears that he might have been mistaken for a person from the North- East.
Jnanpith awardee U. R. Ananthamurthy, calling the exodus “horrible”, maintained that the panic was purely based on rightist rumours. “This situation is being created using Internet and the electronic media as the rightists have a very strong presence on them. If the electronic media says there is a fear, it becomes a fear,’’ he told INDIA TODAY.
Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar held a review meeting on August 16 with North- East representatives, leaders and students along with the law and order brass. He stated that there was no need for either a panic or an exodus. Deputy chief minister and home minister R. Ashoka himself went to the railway station on August 15 and announced over the megaphone: “Brothers and sisters, I assure you all that Bangalore is safe for you. I will take full responsibility for your safety, please don’t go like this. In fact Bangalore is safer than the various other states that your trains will go through, please stay here.’’
Panic and hysteria were such that the first train- full left even as the minister was making the announcement. Karnataka’s senior police officer, DGP Lalrokhuma Pachuau, who himself belongs to Mizoram, has failed to manage
PANIC AND HYSTERIA WERE SUCH THAT THE FIRST TRAIN- FULL LEFT EVEN AS THE MINISTER WAS MAKING THE ANNOUNCEMENT.
the situation. Pachuau also made an appeal, stating: “There has been no assault or harassment reported at any police station in Bangalore. The rumours are unfounded and baseless. If anyone fears for their life, the police will give them full protection.’’
Many local Muslims have tried to calm tensions. Deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha K. Rehman Khan said: “All these fears are based on rumours, with no real basis. The Centre and the state government have assured the NorthEastern community of their safety. Anyone could have started the SMS chain. The police must find out who started the rumour and bring the guilty to book.”
Members of the North- Eastern community have gone into overdrive on social networking sites, trying to re- assure those in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune, asking them not to give credence to the rumours. Kadambari Chavda, a Bangalore resident, posted a photograph on Facebook, showing Muslim students holding placards at the Bangalore railway station stating: “Don’t leave Bangalore. Dear Assamese friends. We love you.”
The recent riot in Mumbai seems to be preying on the minds of the otherwise integrated North- East community in Bangalore. Sociologist Chandan Gowda said the death of a 19- year- old Manipuri student Richard Loitam under mysterious circumstances on April 22 triggered protests in Bangalore and New Delhi and is said to have added to the fears, leading to the mass exodus.
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