Bangalore, Aug. 17: The exodus of northeastern citizens from Bangalore continued today despite paramilitary forces being deployed in the city to build confidence.
The Centre banned bulk text and multi-media messages across the country for 15 days to check the spread of rumours and threats: no one will be able to send more than five text messages at one go.
Delhi also moved to act on longstanding complaints of bias against Northeast students, directing the vice-chancellors of all central universities to ensure their safety on their campuses. Nearly 20,000 students from the region study in Delhi alone.
Hopes of an easing of the exodus had risen in the afternoon with a special Bangalore-to-Guwahati train leaving with several empty seats. Scheduled for a 2pm departure, the train was made to wait till 3.30pm but still didn’t fill up, and railway sources said no more special trains would be operated today.
However, with hundreds more arriving at the station in the evening, a second special train was run at 8pm and officials said a third could be plied later at night apart from the tri-weekly Bangalore-Guwahati Express.
Also, over 1,000 Northeast citizens took trains out of Chennai today and about 450 boarded the Falaknuma Express and East Coast Express from Secunderabad.
Three CRPF and RAF companies each were deployed in sensitive parts of Bangalore, in addition to 24x7 police patrolling.
Home minister R. Ashok said six rumour-mongers had been arrested late this evening for sending threat texts but did not reveal their identities. “The government is doing its best but the feedback I have received from the (Northeast) people is that they are returning as their families back home are worried,” he said.
He said most of the panicky migrants had had no first-hand experience of any harassment. “It’s always someone who saw a message, or ‘my friend’s friend’ who was harassed. Our probe will fix responsibility for this mess.”
Earlier, an attack on a Manipuri youth sent shockwaves through Bangalore till the police clarified it was an attempted robbery. Three youths tried to mug Lialiatiaphai, 22, and two friends at Wilson Garden. The police have arrested Abrar Ahmed, 22, Salman, 21, and Vinay, 22.
The first case of a bias attack on a northeasterner was booked after Thokchom Bikash, a Manipuri worker, alleged a threat from two motorbike riders on Wednesday night. The police also registered a case after a Manipuri youth was beaten up by a gang but said it could be a matter of personal enmity.
Ashok met visiting Assam ministers Nilamani Sen Deka and Chandan Brahma and accompanied them to the railway station.