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INDIA'S SHAME: Exodus of Northeastern Students Continues from many States

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Appeals and assurances of safety by the Karnataka government notwithstanding, people from North East continued to flee the state in hordes for the third consecutive day on Friday, driven by rumours of impending attacks by Muslim groups.

The exodus so far confined to Bangalore has now spread to some other parts with people of the North Eastern region living in Mysore, Mangalore and Kodagu arriving Bangalore in trains and buses and rushing to railway counters to buy tickets.

More than 15,000 people have fled the city in the past two days following the rumours, official sources said on Friday.

The Railways had sold 9,718 tickets for the two special trains that headed to Guwahati Thursday night, Divisional Railway Manager, Bangalore, Anil Kumar Agarwal, told Friday morning.

Officials estimate the number of people from the northeast, including students, residing in Bangalore in the range of 2.5 lakh and 2.75 lakh.

The government continued to reach out to the community urging them to stay on and assured them that it is committed to safeguarding their lives and property in Karnataka.

"We on behalf of people of Karnataka and Government once again reassure the people of the North-Eastern Community that they are safe and welcomed in Karnataka", the Government said in an advertisement, signed by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and Home Minister R Ashoka, published in newspapers on Friday.

The Government said no violent incidents have been reported.

"We thereby urge not to heed to rumours and rest assured that stringent security measures have been deployed to prevent any untoward incidents".

Strict action would be taken against anyone spreading rumours.

"We also request the north-eastern media not to go by unconfirmed reports which can create further fear and confusion," Shettar and Ashoka said.

"The exodus of Northeast people from the city is not due to threat factor, but due to anxiety to be with their parents at a time when Assam has been gripped by violence," Law and Parliamentary Minister S Suresh Kumar said.

Official sources said Railways have arranged a special train to Guwahati which would leave in the afternoon.

"Looking at the demand for tickets to northeastern states, we may arrange some more special trains," a railway official said.

Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Home Minister R Ashok, DGP Lalrokhuma Pachau, himself from the North Eastern state of Mizoram, and Bangalore Police Commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirji have repeatedly assured the North Eastern people of their safety, but rumours have overwhelmed them.

The Intelligence Bureau and state police are yet to ascertain the source of the rumours.

The State Home Department has ordered surveillance of social media sites to check for people who are distorting facts and circulating false information.

Suresh Kumar also requested Shettar, who is in Delhi today, to urge Railways to arrange for as many special trains as possible to clear the rush as he expects more people from the North East to leave.

MEANWHILE:

The Centre has asked Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to reach out to the people from northeast living in these states to allay apprehensions of threat following exodus of hundreds of people.

The Home Ministry also directed monitoring of social networking sites and find out the origin of SMSes through which rumors were spread to generate panic.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said he has asked Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to make an appeal to the people from northeast not to pay any heed to rumours and remain calm.

In an advisory, the Home Ministry asked Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to reach out to the leaders of the northeast communities to sensitise them about the steps taken by the authorities to provide them full security.

"Police has reached to the people from northeast to tell them not to leave. Our request to them is please do not give credentials to rumours. Whoever is spreading rumours, we will catch them, we are following them," Union Home Secretary R K Singh said on Thursday.

Two Assam-bound special trains were operated on Wednesday night in addition to the regular service to clear the sudden rush of passengers triggered by the rumours in the wake of one incident of attack on people from the northeast in Pune following the violence in Assam.

Railway officials had said in Bangalore on Wednesday that they had sold over 5,000 tickets for northeastern destinations.SH


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