There was something melancholic, even ghostly about a train from Guwahati that rolled into platform six of the Bangalore City Railway Station at 9.30 p.m. in Bangalore on Wednesday.
Only a few days ago, this train was bound for Guwahati packed with people from the northeast fleeing the city. But on Wednesday evening, there was barely a soul on its return journey as it moved silently toward the shunting docks.
Including this one, there were three similar trains that returned from Guwahati on Wednesday after depositing nearly 20,000 panicked people at Guwahati and New Jalpaiguri. All were empty.
Hoping that the returning trains would be carrying people from the northeast, 50 activists belonging to various human rights organisations as well as northeast groups had prepared to assemble at the railway station.
Activist Elavarthi Manohar and his supporters had hurriedly printed 2,000 visiting card-sized pamphlets for the “returning people”.
The pamphlets, titled North East Helpline, read: “Welcome to Bangalore. Do you need any assistance? We are here to help you. Please contact 9845967545/94882396178 [from] Civil Society and Humanitarian Organisations.”
That young man
When the train stopped at the station, several policemen started searching for people from the northeast. A young man, who had northeast features, became the centre of their attention. They were excited when he told them that he had boarded the train at Guwahati and was from Assam. But their excitement soon died when the man told them that he was actually a migrant worker from Bihar working in Assam but decided to come to Bangalore after all the communal tension there.