Thursday scotched rumours that students from northeastern region
living in the city would be attacked in retaliation for the ethnic
violence in Assam, even as over 5,000 of them fled to Guwahati by
special trains late Wednesday and in the early hours.
"We are assuring students and others from northeastern states
residing in Bangalore or other parts of Karnataka that they are
safe. They need not rush back to their homes fearing attacks as
rumoured by unscrupulous elements," Bangalore Deputy Commissioner
of Police (intelligence) Vincent S. D'Souza told IANS.
Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka, who holds the home portfolio,
directed police to use all communication modes to assure the
people from the northeast that they were safe and would be given
full protection against any attack.
"We are using SMS, Facebook, Twitter, television channels, radio
and other media to spike the rumours. We assure the people from
the northeast, especially students in Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore
and other cities, not to believe in rumours and fear any attack on
them," D'Souza said.
Wild rumours have been spreading, causing panic, that the people
from the northeast region would be attacked after the Id-ul-Fitr
August 20 to avenge the Assam violence, in which 74 lives were
"We had to scramble to arrange at a short notice two special
trains of 20-22 coaches each around midnight to Guwahati in
addition to the daily Bangalore-Guwahati Express and Bangalore-Howrah
Express as a whopping 6,000 unreserved tickets were sold since
Wednesday afternoon at booking counters in city railway station,"
South Western Railway spokesman Suvankar Biswas told IANS.
Since regular trains to Howrah and Guwahati were fully booked for
over a week due to holidays since Wednesday till Monday, all those
who were desperate to leave the city were forced to buy unreserved
tickets and board the first available train to Assam.
"Even those who could not get reservation to Howrah or Guwahati
are opting to buy tickets up to Chennai so as to catch any
northeast-bound trains from there. This is the first time we are
seeing such a big surge in sale of tickets for these trains on a
single day - that too in off-season," Biswas said.
The sudden overcrowding of platforms late Wednesday and frantic
calls by railway officials for deployment of additional personnel
from the Railway Protection Force and city police to prevent any
untoward incident forced even the deputy chief minister to rush to
the city station and plead with the frenzied students to desist
from leaving the city.
"We are taking all measures to ensure people's safety across the
state and protect them from being attacked or harmed by anyone.
Security of citizens is our foremost duty," Director General of
Police Lalrokhuma Pachau told reporters here.
"We request all, including the media, to allay fears of attacks on
students from the northeast region or any part of the country and
report to the nearest police station on rumour-mongers who are
trying to spread fear," he added.
In a related development, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar assured
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that people, especially students
from the northeast, would be given protection to ensure their
safety and security.
"The assurance was given when Singh called Shettar late Wednesday
to express concern over unconfirmed reports of attack on students
of the northeast in Bangalore and Mysore since Tuesday," an
official from the Chief Minister's Office said.