The panic exodus of the Northeast people from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra abated today, said sources.
In Bangalore, Karnataka Home Minister R Asoka said the exodus had stopped.
With no unusual rush being witnessed at Bangalore from where 30,000 Northeast people had left, Asoka, who met a three-member Nagaland delegation, told the visitors the exodus stopped after government promised safety. The team comprised two ministers and the inspector-general of police.
“Everything is calm. There is no need to panic,” Asoka told reporters after the meeting. “We have arrested 16 persons in the city during last three days for intimidating or sending disturbing SMSs to the Northeast population. The situation is under control.”
Additional Director General of Police Bhaskar Rao said: “Since yesterday, no special trains are plying to Guwahati. The exodus has stopped.”
The exodus of the Northeast people from Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra also abated and no special trains were operated to Guwahati. But security personnel kept a tight vigil, especially with Eid falling tomorrow. The flight of people from the Northeast was sparked by rumours and SMSs early this week that they would be attacked in the wake of the Assam violence. In Chennai, the exit of northeasterners from the city dwindled with only a few hundred seen at the main railway station.
Police said the number of those leaving, around 2,000 every day, had dropped to less than 1,000 today. A relative decline was observed in Pune since last night, official sources said. Although many continued to board the Azad Hind Express to Howrah, the number of students and workers from Assam and Manipur rushing to railway station was gradually decreasing, a railway official said.
In Mumbai, no unusual rush was witnessed on trains heading for West Bengal and the Northeast, Central Railway sources said. In Bangalore, police deployed 17,000 personnel as government decided to instil confidence among the Northeasterners.
Meanwhile, two passengers of a Guwahati-bound special train carrying Northeast natives fleeing Bangalore were killed and seven injured after they were beaten up and pushed out by unidentified persons. The police found two bodies and the seven injured persons near the tracks at Belakoba railway station, a few km from New Jalpaiguri station. “The two had died on the spot. We do not know the reason behind the incident. We are investigating the matter,” New Jalpaiguri area manager (rail) Partho Sarthi Seal said.
Three companies each of CRPF and RAF, 25 Karnataka State Reserve Police platoons and 35 City Armed Reserve platoons, 1,500 trainee policemen and 500 Home Guards were deployed here, Police Commissioner Jyothi Prakash Mirji told reporters in Bangalore.
Police and railway authorities remained tightlipped on the identity of the attacked passengers, who hailed from Assam, pending an investigation. Special trains were operated by Railways from Bangalore to ferry passengers fleeing the city over fears of attacks on them sparked by rumours in the wake of Assam violence. The police found two bodies and the seven injured persons near the tracks at Belakoba railway station, a few km from New Jalpaiguri station. “The two had died on the spot. We do not know the reason behind the incident. We are investigating the matter,” New Jalpaiguri area manager (rail) Partho Sarthi Seal said. Railway sources quoting one of the injured passengers admitted to the district hospital said they were looted of their belongings and beaten up severely before being thrown out of the train by unknown persons.
The injured have been admitted to the district hospital and the North Bengal Medical College Hospital. A large number of people blocked train movement at the New Jalpaiguri station in protest against the incident as a result of which some Assam-bound express trains and local trains were stranded. Later in the day, the blockade was lifted. The Railways announced an ex-gratia of Rs 15,000 each to the two dead passengers and ex-gratia of Rs 500 each to the seven injured. The kin of the passengers, who hailed from Hailakandi district in Assam and had confirmed tickets upto Guwahati, would be given the amount, Divisional Commercial Officer (DCM) of Katihar Division of East Central Railway B K Mishra said.