South India — which has never seen non-locals fleeing the region for fear of their lives — continued to witness the unprecedented exodus of citizens from the Northeast on Thursday, with thousands from Chennai too rushing to the railway station to take the train home.
In Bangalore, where it all began, their flight continued unabated with 7,500 more people boarding four Guwahati-bound trains — three special trains apart from the regular Bangalore-Guwahati Express.
On Thursday evening, nearly 3,000 workers and students, mostly from Assam, were seen waiting at Chennai Central, eager to board the two Guwahati-bound trains that were scheduled for departure at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Friday. A number of them had arrived from Coimbatore and Madurai.
“Nothing has happened till now, but we are very sure something really bad is going to happen. Our Bangalore friends have said we have to leave before August 20,” said Bishnu, 21, who hails from Dibrugarh and works as a waiter in a restaurant in Chennai.
Chennai Commissioner of Police J.K. Tripathy told The Hindu that no complaint of violence against natives of the Northeast had been reported so far. “They don’t need to worry at all, they are safe. We will make sure there is no untoward situation,” Mr. Tripathy said.
But migrant workers from the Northeast appeared too panicky at the moment to pay heed to such assurances. “Incidents have already been reported from Hyderabad, Bangalore and from Kerala. I am very scared,” said Bishnu, who has been working in Chennai for the past three years. “It was never like this before. Everyone is extremely scared this time.”
“We are employed as security guards at the Siruseri IT Park,” said Bindeswar, who huddled with his colleagues at the Central station. “We spoke to our companies today but none of them agreed to take responsibility for our safety.” They heard rumours that four people had already been killed in Bangalore and said they did not wish to meet the same fate. “Our families back home are petrified. They want us back as soon as possible,” said Bindeswar.
Most people fleeing Chennai happen to hail from Assam; though smaller, separate groups from Manipur and Mizoram, were waiting to leave too. The sense of panic is evident in the student community as well, according to college heads. “This is mainly because their friends from Bangalore are sending them all sorts of messages and they are falling prey to rumours. We have assured them that they are safe here,” said a professor at Loyola College.