‘Scared for their lives’, they pack up and head home

The mass exodus of residents from the northeast residing in Bangalore appears to be a culmination of days of panic following rumours and unsubstantiated accounts of violence from some areas of the city and Mysore.

On Wednesday night, thousands thronged the Bangalore City Railway Station, belongings in hand, to travel back to their hometowns. Many of them told The Hindu that they were “scared for their lives” and they would return if the situation went back to normal.

Most of them conceded that they had not “directly” witnessed or even known about cases of violence, but that there were “strong accounts” of intimidation from members of a community.

Many of them attributed this to the recent clashes in Assam and religious strife reported in Myanmar.

When contacted, student unions, representing different northeastern communities, were unable to cite a single registered case of violence. However, they claimed that incidents of violence had been reported in Neelsandra, Anepalya and some parts of Wilson Garden and Ejipura.

Many of them appeared to have made their decision to leave on the basis of reports by the regional media in Assam. “Our families are calling us back because they are watching television reports that people are being stabbed in Ahmedabad, Pune and Bangalore. They do not want us to take a risk,” says James, who works in a food chain here.

He said that students felt safer as they lived in colleges and would be protected by college authorities. “We have no one here,” he added.

‘No distinction made’

Tiken, a native of Manipur, said that his State was peaceful but people did not make a distinction between residents of different States. “They think everyone with a similar face structure is from Assam.” he said. Mr. Tiken also added that he was sure that this wasn’t just about a community, and that there were many who would want to take advantage of the situation of “mistrust and insecurity”. His Assamese friend, who was also headed home, told The Hindu that he had learnt that “troublemakers had aggravated the ‘minor situation’ in Assam”, and that something similar could happen here. The group comprising 10 persons are all employed in security agencies.

Many of them, having lived and worked here for years, were angry that they had to leave. While some have taken leave of absence, others have simply vacated their premises.

“When there is panic and fear we cannot sit back and wait for something to happen. If something happens who will save us,” asked Rose, who works in a beauty parlour here. She said that there was a meeting of Manipuris who live in Neelsandra two days ago where they had decided to seek police protection. However, since then, things had become worse, and we are being told that a “riot-like situation” could break out after the weekend.

A trader, Shiraz Mohammed, who was also at the railway station heading to Chennai, said that he had not heard of any such conflict or “planned attack”. “This is something happening so far away. Why will people here want to target them?” he said and referred to northeastern residents as a “very docile” population.

His friend, Akram, said that this must be the handiwork of “mischief-makers” who are spreading rumours to create panic.


IT, security firms reach out to Northeast people September 3, 2012

Exodus continues August 18, 2012

9 cases of assault, intimidation registered, 8 heldAugust 18, 2012

‘SMSs came from outside State’August 18, 2012

Colleges told to conduct special classes, postpone examsAugust 18, 2012

Assam Ministers arrive in cityAugust 18, 2012

Northeast students in city safe, but seek reassuranceAugust 18, 2012

Exodus hits private security agencies tooAugust 18, 2012

Governor: there is lack of communicationAugust 18, 2012

Panic-stricken students leave collegesAugust 18, 2012

Bangalore rallies behind its northeast residentsAugust 19, 2012

You are safe in Mangalore, Oscar tells students from Northeast August 19, 2012

Tight security in placeAugust 20, 2012

Minister on midnight rounds to allay fearsAugust 20, 2012

Please come backAugust 18, 2012

Stung government on damage control modeAugust 17, 2012

Opposition criticises governmentAugust 17, 2012

‘Third-party involvement cannot be ruled out’August 17, 2012

Exodus hits security, hospitality sectors August 17, 2012

After Bangalore, Chennai too sees exodusAugust 16, 2012

Nerves stretched, all set to go homeAugust 17, 2012

Let's work together to stop exodus, says PMAugust 16, 2012

Jumpy students fall for rumoursAugust 17, 2012

Karnataka is the safest place for you, says Shettar August 17, 2012

Mischief potential of social media in full play August 17, 2012

Rumours, false reports spook Assamese in Andhra PradeshAugust 17, 2012

Special trains from BangaloreAugust 17, 2012

After rumours, northeast people flee Bangalore August 16, 2012

No threat to northeast people: Home SecretaryAugust 16, 2012

Don’t panic, says Gogoi; 9 injured in fresh violence August 16, 2012

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