The exodus of citizens belonging to the Northeast continued unabated, for the second day, from Bangalore.
The situation got so bad that railway counters stopped issuing tickets at 7.15 p.m. on Thursday since they could not accommodate any more passengers. On Wednesday night, 6,900 passengers headed home in two special trains and the Guwahati Express. Depending on the demand, two more special trains are likely to be run on Friday. Thanks to the rumours (about natives of the Northeast being under threat), security firms, BPOs, restaurants and hotels, beauty parlours, colleges and schools, where they can be found in substantial numbers, wore a deserted look on Thursday. This, despite assurances from the Karnataka government, police, concerned citizens and representatives of Muslims, that they need not be scared.
But at the same time, anonymous cellphone messages spreading rumours of killings and rape of Northeast natives, or containing warnings of dire consequence for those staying beyond August 20, continued to circulate through the day. The State government and the police went on the damage-control mode, announcing confidence-building measures. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, after chairing a meeting of top officials and representatives of the Northeastern community, announced setting up of a 24-hour helpline. “Karnataka is the safest place for you to live in the country,” Mr. Shettar said, pointing out that no major incident of violence against the people from the Northeast had been reported in the State so far.
But Neelasandra, Adugodi and Suduguntapalya in southeast Bangalore, where the threat perceptions were high, wore a deserted look. Police were seen patrolling the streets. These lower-income and thickly-populated areas are home to large numbers of working class Muslims and natives of the Northeast. Director General and Inspector General of Police Lalrokhuma Pachau also chaired a peace meeting in which Muslim leaders and representatives of people from the Northeast attended.