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Back home, but what about their future?

Sushanta Talukdar
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Most of the youth said they did not receive any threat but decided to leave on the basis of hearsay

At home:People of the northeast who came in two special trains at the Guwahati railway station on Saturday.— Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar
At home:People of the northeast who came in two special trains at the Guwahati railway station on Saturday.— Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar

For eight long years Mukut Daimary from northern Assam’s Udalguri district under the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) has been cooking Chinese delicacies in a Bangalore restaurant on a monthly salary of Rs. 12,000. His elder brother Rejoi Daimary too works in another restaurant and is earning an equal amount. Over the past one year, Mukut’s wife Jino Basumtary added to the brothers’ income by working as an apprentice in a beauty parlour in Bangalore, earning Rs. 7,000 a month. The trio was sending remittances every month to Mukut’s parents, a peasant family in Udalguri.

On Saturday morning, when Mukut and his wife, holding their 9-month-old daughter Arlin, descended on the Guwahati railway station at 5.20 a.m. from the first special train from Bangalore that brought about 2,500 youths hailing from the northeast — who fled the Karnataka capital leaving behind their jobs and happiness following rumours of violence against them — the Daimarys looked shattered. They were clueless about what would they do now. “I don't know. Perhaps I will engage myself in cultivation in my village. I am not sure if I will return to Bangalore,” said Mukut.

Most of the returnees like Mukut, whom The Hindu spoke to at the Guwahati station, said they had not directly received any threat or intimidation but decided to leave Bangalore as they heard about some incidents of assault on people from the northeast. Few were on record that some people in the localities where they stayed in rented accommodation had asked them to leave or face dire consequences. However, none of those who claimed to have received such threat or intimidation lodged any police complaint.

The second special train with 19 coaches and about 2,500 youths arrived at 7.50 a.m. A number of returnees, most of them Bodos, said they cook south Indian delicacies in restaurants they work.

“Four persons came to our rented accommodation and told us that since we were from Assam we should leave Bangalore as soon as possible to escape a possible attack on us,” said Moloya Doley from Dhemaji, who works as a security guard.

After getting down from the two trains, most youths were in a hurry to board buses to reach the Inter State Bus Terminus here for onward journey to their interior villages of some of the most backward districts like Dhemaji, Karbi Anglong and Baksa.

The Nagaland government and Naga students in Guwahati opened help desks at the station and helped Naga youth, who arrived in the special trains, to board the connecting train to Dimapur.

Altogether, 37 Naga youths, who were working in hotels, restaurants or as security guards in Bangalore, registered their names at the help desk. Ato Rengma, Ms. Sophia Bungsulian and Ram Goyari, all from Nagaland capital Kohima, boarded the second special train at Chennai. “We did not receive any threat but we heard from our friends that those from the northeast have been attacked in various places and feared that there might be an attack on us too. Our parents also advised us to return,” said Ato Rengma, who works in a car seat manufacturing company in Chennai.

Most of the returnees who work as security guards and stay in company accommodations said their employers had urged them not to leave and assured them of full protection. “However, we did not want to take any risk. Our bosses have asked us to return as soon as possible,” said Parag Bodo, who hails from Boko in lower Assam’s Kamrup district and was earning Rs. 7,000 as a security guard in Bangalore.

Siddhartha Gogoi from Sepon in upper Assam’s Sivasagar district, who has been working as a security guard in Bangalore for the past three years, said he would return as soon as the situation became normal, because he is the sole breadwinner in the family and has to support his mother and sister back home with his monthly earning of Rs. 7000. The family does not have any other means of income.

Joint Resident Commissioner, Nagaland, V. Mariayanthan, who was overseeing the help desk at the station, said the State government would undertake a goodwill visit to Bangalore and Pune as part of confidence-building measures so that those who were staying in the two cities felt secure and those who had come back might return to their places of work. Help desks were opened by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Kamrup (Metropolitan) district administration at the Guwahati station.


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