Concerned at the exodus of professionals and workers from the northeast from Bangalore and other southern cities, the Union government on Thursday asked the State governments concerned to reach out to them and allay their fears so that they stay back.
Amid this development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed to people to remain vigilant and maintain peace at any cost. “We must work together to ensure that all people from other States do not feel threatened by rumour-mongering and SMSs,” he said at an Iftar hosted by him.
Dr. Singh said he had spoken to Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and was yet to speak with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Reddy, while he was constantly in touch with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on the situation in the State. “All political parties must work together to give a feeling of confidence to all affected people.”
The Prime Minister said the Karnataka government was taking all steps to quash rumour-mongering. He appreciated the visit of Karnataka Home Minister to the Bangalore railway station on Wednesday where people from the northeast had gathered to board trains to Guwahati.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was in touch with Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra governments and had asked police to monitor the flow of SMS and messages on social networking sites, which were allegedly being used to spread rumours.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said strict action would be taken against those responsible for spreading rumours. “I have asked Mr. Shettar to appeal to the people from the northeast not to pay any heed to rumours and remain calm.”
In its advisory, the MHA asked the Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh governments to reach out to the leaders of the northeast communities and sensitise them to the steps being taken to provide security to those belonging to their States.
“Whoever is spreading rumours, we will catch them…we are following them,” Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh told journalists here.
MPs meet Sonia
Meanwhile, Congress MPs from the northeast called on party president Sonia Gandhi and expressed concern at the exodus of people of the region from the South.
According to Union Minister of State for Development of Northeast Paban Singh Ghatowar, who was also part of the delegation, Ms. Gandhi was told how panic had gripped people from the northeast living in these cities following rumours about possible attacks on them.
Chairman of Northeast MPs Forum and Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh Mukul Mithi said they urged Dr. Singh and Chief Ministers of these States to provide adequate security to those belonging to the area. “It is a matter of serious concern,” he told journalists outside Parliament.
“The Centre and the States should take precautionary measures to stop these kinds of incidents…we would like to request the State governments concerned, particularly that of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi, to take steps to protect the people from the northeast,” he said.