Efforts by government to assure people from northeast that they are safe have fallen on deaf ears. Exodus continues as private security guards, those working in beauty salons pack their bags. Vicky Nanjappa reports
Post last Saturday's violence in Mumbai following an anti-Assam protest that claimed two lives and left over 50 injured, a northeast student received an anonymous SMS in Bengaluru, which read: Be careful and look after yourselves, you will be attacked after Ramazan.
This message was forwarded to 1,000 people from the northeast in Bengaluru and other cities in and around Karnataka leading to an exodus of sorts. Students were seen crowding railway stations as two special trains left Bengaluru on Wednesday night for Assam.
Soon, rumour mills were abuzz with talks of Muslim groups waiting for the end of Ramzan, following which there would be a series of attacks on people from the northeast.
Although the Karnataka government is repeatedly trying to assure that the safety of those from the northeast is their utmost concern, it seems have little impact. About 1.50 lakh private security personnel in Bengaluru are for the northeast and Tibet. Panic-stricken, around 30,000 of them did not turn up for work on Thursday and many are said to have left the city.
Vishwanath Katti, who runs a private security firm, said, "Law and order is a major concern following this exodus. The situation is getting worse."
"In the absence of private security guards, the police will have to step in. Meanwhile, we are trying to instill confidence in people from the northeast and trying to convince them not to fall for the rumours,' he added.
The police agree that in the absence of private security guards they are feeling the pressure of an added responsibility. They have held meetings and beefed up security in areas that house a large population of people from the northeast.
In some office in Bengaluru, NE employees have been asked to take a day off fearing an attack on them.
Apart from security guards, a large number of women working in beauty salons, who hail from Manipur and Tripura, are also packing their bags. "It is okay if we are unable to make the big bucks. Safety is our primary concern and we think it is best to return home," said a beautician, requesting anonymity.
The scenes at railway stations in Bengaluru are chaotic. Thousands are waiting to leave the city and special trains have been arranged to ferry them back home. Interestingly, some members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were seen convincing people not to leave and assuring them protection.
Muslim organisations in the city have also said that they have no intentions to attack people from the northeast.
Also, a lot of movement is seen in the Tibetan settlement camps in Bylakuppe. After a stray incident of an attack on a Tibetan in Mysore, they feel that they will be victims of mistaken identity and are joining people from the northeast.