Fear abates three weeks after rumours of violence sparked exodus from the south

A special train, with about 300 youths from Assam, left Guwahati for Bangalore on Saturday. They included not just those who fled the garden city in mid-August and returned home in the wake of adverse rumours, but also 32 new workers from Gogamukh in upper Assam's Dhemaji district. They have been hired to work as construction workers in Bangalore.

The train was flagged off by Assam's Agriculture Minister Nilamani Sen Deka and Environment and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain around 2.40 p.m. and sweets were distributed.. The train was scheduled to leave at 1.15 p.m., but there was some delay owing to the addition of a general coach, as some youths came with the impression that they do not require reservation to board the train. Besides two general coaches, the train has 17 sleeper coaches. Reservation charts pasted on the coaches showed that most of the reservations were made by passengers from stations originating beyond Assam.

Monoj Bhuyan from a village near Gogamukh told The Hindu that he decided to go to the southern city as he was finding it difficult to make both ends meet by working as a daily wage earner in his village. His family had only one-and-half bigha of land and cannot produce enough grains to last for the whole year. “A number of youths from my village work in Bangalore and earn regularly. So I decided to go there to earn money,” he said.

Assurance of safety

Mitu Nath of Tezpur, a B.Com graduate from Darrang College in northern Assam's Sonitpur district, who has been working as front office assistant in a software company in Bangalore, said he was happy to return to work. “My employer spoke to me over the phone at least six times since I returned on August 17 and asked me to come back and promised that we will be safe in Bangalore and there was nothing to worry.”

Most of the returnees shared same information about their employer asking them to return without any fear and assuring them of all assistance.

Rohit Basumtary and his wife Bhumika Basumatary were also eager to return to their work place that is about two-and-half-hour drive from Bangalore. While Rohit has been working as a security guard for the past nine years, his wife was employed in a garment company for the past three years. After their return from Bangalore on August 17, the couple, however, could not go to Rohit's home in Bijni in Chirang district, as the situation was tense there and they stayed at his in-law’s residence at Udalguri. The couple said their employers asked them to return, saying they have nothing to worry about their job and safety.

Mr. Hussain said a team of nine Government Railway Police, (GRP) led by Deputy Superintendent of Police N. Ali, and 23 personnel of the Railway Protection Force would provide security during the train’s entire journey.

Both the Ministers said a beginning had been made by the 300 youths. Their journey would send a positive message to others who had returned and give them the confidence to go back to their places of work at the earliest.