NE exodus continues despite assurances

NEW DELHI — In an effort to stem the scaremongering that has led to thousands from the northeast fleeing southern states, the government on Friday banned bulk SMSes in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka for 15 days as parliament united in support of people from the region and demanded that those fanning rumours be punished.


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Published: Sun 19 Aug 2012, 12:47 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:52 AM

MPs cutting across party lines Friday spoke as one in support of people from the northeast with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declaring in both houses of parliament that everybody would together ensure that those from the region were safe in all parts of the country.

With wild rumours fuelling the exodus of northeast people from Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, and Chennai, the home ministry clamped down on bulk SMSes that have been the source of fears of attacks. SMSes have been spreading that people from the northeast region would be attacked after the Eid Al Fitr on August 20 to avenge the recent ethnic violence in Assam, in which more than 74 people were killed.

The rumours have led to over 6,000 students from northeast to flee to Guwahati from Bangalore by special trains till late Wednesday. Despite assurances by state government authorities that they would be looked after, on Friday morning an estimated 2,000 people from the northeastern states boarded crowded trains leaving for Howrah in West Bengal and Guwahati, Assam, from Mumbai’s Lokmanya Tilak Terminus at Kurla. An estimated 3,000 people have already left Maharashtra from Nashik and Pune in the past three days. Since early this week, an estimated 5,000 people from Assam and other northeastern states have returned home, leaving their jobs, education and houses in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik.

Meanwhile, the Assam government on Friday sent its ministers to Bangalore and Hyderabad to discuss the exodus of northeast citizens following rumours that they would be attacked.

Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar on Friday assured people from the northeastern states of their security in the national capital and said they need not panic or leave the city.

“(We) wish to assure all people from the northeast that (there is) no reason whatsoever to panic or leave Delhi. Please report any disturbing incident to us. We are with you for help,” Kumar tweeted.

A railway official in Chennai said that around 2,000 people have left in additional coaches for Assam.

In Parliament, members in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha discussed the issue at length.

Question hour was adjourned in both houses.

Addressing the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “It is our obligation to protect the people of northeast. The government will discharge its duty to the best of its ability so that the feeling of insecurity among people of northeast is brought under control.”

“Such acts are most reprehensible. The unity and integrity of India is being threatened by some elements,” he said.

The prime minister also said that “rumour mongers” and “miscreants” would be brought to book.

The message was echoed by members of both houses.

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