Ashok, senior police officials assure residents of safety
Befuddled faces greeted the long and winding convoy of beaconed cars and police vehicles that zipped across the city on the eve of Id-ul-Fitr late on Sunday night. Surprised at the commotion, close to midnight, residents came out of their homes in Koramangala, while those finishing their last-minute shopping for the festival near Johnson Market and Neelasandra crowded around the cars to inquire what the fuss was all about.
Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister R. Ashok, along with senior police officers, including Director-General and Inspector-General of Police L.R. Pachau and Bangalore Police Commissioner Jyoti Prakash Mirji, went on a whirlwind tour of the city, meeting Muslim leaders in mosques in the so-called “affected” areas, and in Koramangala, Viveknagar and J.P. Nagar, where northeast residents live in large numbers. The police said that this was part of various confidence building measures the State has undertaken to reassure the city's northeast residents that Bangalore is a safe place and that they are not under any threat.
At the Neelasandra mosque, Mr. Ashok said: “Our government wishes all Muslims a happy, safe and secure Id. We know that there will be no trouble, tomorrow or in the future and that such talk is all rumours.” N.A. Haris, MLA, received him at the mosque. Mr. Pachau said security had been tightened throughout the city to ensure that there were no untoward incidents.
Even as the Minister spoke to the media inside the mosque, many gathered outside to find out if anything was wrong. Ahmed, a tea vendor, said that there was no scope for violence and that the atmosphere of fear was being created by people from outside. “Initially, young boys were collecting money for relief for those hit by the Assam riots, and that is all we know about what happened there. That too was stopped a week ago. All this talk of violence is not true,” he said. His wife, Rahana, said that the tight security was unnecessary.
The team visited a Tibetan Youth Hostel in Koramangala Fourth block. Here too, the police officers assured students that there would be no violence in the city. Mr. Ashok said that due to widespread dissemination of misinformation by “certain miscreants”, many residents had left the city. “Today, after four days, the numbers of those boarding trains is down to 300. This means that people now trust us,” he said.
Addressing his young audience, Mr. Pachau said that the stray incident of an attack on a Tibetan student in Mysore “may have nothing to do with the current situation.” “We are cracking down on who is behind this panic and have already caught 10 to15 culprits. We will ensure you are safe,” he said.
Norbu, a staff member at the hostel, said that there was indeed fear among students. “More than half the students have left for their homes. Even these students have not stepped outside for five days now.” He added that the heavy patrolling and police presence in recent days gave them a sense of security.