One of the more encouraging sights on Saturday was of several people from the northeast going about the city as though nothing had ever happened. In what appeared to be a step towards normality after days of panic, they were seen walking alone through crowded marketplaces even in the so-called worst-affected areas such as Neelasandra, Ejipura, Viveknagar and Austin Town.
Their renewed confidence in the city’s safety was also bolstered by flag marches by the city police along with a large contingent of the Rapid Action Force. These marches were carried out at Shivajinagar, Ejipura, Neelasandra, Ashoknagar, Viveknagar and Austin Town.
Dozens of people from the northeast and their leaders attended the iftar party hosted for them by the committee that runs the affairs of the Masjid-e-Akbari in Neelasandra. Over a sumptuous spread of fresh fruits, samosas and traditional biryani, leaders from both communities vowed to work towards normalising the situation.
Commissioner of Police B.G. Jyothi Prakash Mirji, Additional Commissioner of Police T. Suneel Kumar as well as Congress MLA N.A. Haris addressed both groups and called for an atmosphere of bonhomie.
Assuring all support to the police from the community, Mr. Haris said: “Neelasandra and surrounding areas have a long history of coexistence between various communities.”
Activist Lawrence Liang, who has been working with the northeast communities since this crisis broke out, was also among the invitees at the iftar. “It was a very large-hearted move to have a gathering like this inside the mosque. We couldn’t have asked for a better gesture, and the biryani was excellent.”
The day was, however, marred by a minor incident where the employees of a beauty parlour near St. Joseph’s Commerce College found a handwritten note warning them of dire consequences if they did not leave the city before August 20.
Meanwhile, Johnson Rajkumar, assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communication, St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science, was asked to vacate his house in Shantinagar by his landlord. The house owner wanted all the men from the northeast in the building to leave.
Mr. Rajkumar, who is from Manipur, told The Hindu : “My house owner was very scared. He did not want any trouble. But after some of my local friends as well as activists intervened, he cooled down and let me and the others stay on.”