Thousands of people from the northeast swarmed the Bangalore City Railway Station on Thursday as their exodus — fuelled by rumours of impending attacks on social networking sites and through text messages — continued on the second consecutive day.
Unlike Wednesday, when the crowd swelled around evening, the city railway station witnessed hordes of people right from the morning, anticipating special trains to Guwahati. By late afternoon, a couple of thousands had gathered both on platform 4 and outside the railway station.
Visibly shaken, most of the migrants — who had hitherto found Bangalore to be the next best to home — remained huddled in small groups, awaiting the first special train to arrive.
“We are getting calls from our parents to return as they’re scared at the turn of events. I’m leaving because all my friends are, though none of us have had any problems so far,” a native of Guwahati said. Many others also cited similar reasons.
However, there were those who came forward to share their traumatic experiences with Law Minister S. Suresh Kumar, who arrived at the railway station in the afternoon. His attempts at persuading the people to stay back cut no ice at all.
While two youngsters from Nagaland alleged that they were attacked at Austin Town on Wednesday evening, another claimed that he was accosted by strangers near Coles Park on Thursday while on his way to the railway station. “I have asked them to approach the police to file complaints,” the Minister told presspersons.
Even as he was speaking, the alleged victims refused to file a complaint saying this would not assure them any security. The two boys said that they would rather leave.
The exodus (at least 13,500 in two days) also saw 200 men of the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishath and the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh offering food and water. They had even set up a helpline.
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah, who was among those visiting the railway station, urged Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to convene an all-party meeting to ameliorate the situation. “Had it been convened earlier, we could have made a joint appeal to prevent the exodus,” he said.
Meanwhile, South Western Railway sources said that 7,581 tickets to Guwahati were sold as of 7.15 p.m. on Thursday when the counters closed. All were accommodated in three special trains along with the regular Bangalore-Guwahati Express. According to sources, while the latter took about 55 hours to reach Assam’s capital, the special trains could take another 10 hours.