Passengers scurry along Guwahati railway station to catch the first special train to take them back to the southern states on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Sept. 1: A special train today left Guwahati for Bangalore with more than 1,400 people from the Northeast who had fled their workplaces in south India around two weeks ago following rumours of attacks. Another special train will leave for Bangalore on September 5.
A senior official of Kamrup (metro) district administration said 1,298 tickets had been booked in the 17 sleeper coaches and 120 had boarded the three general compartments of the special train. Many boarded the train at Kamakhya, Rangiya, Nalbari, Kokrajhar and other places.
NF Railway has decided to run the two special trains after state governments in the Northeast and Karnataka assured proper security and help to all those who had fled the southern states.
Assam forest and environment minister Rakibul Hussain and agriculture minister Nilamoni Sen Deka, who visited the railway station, said a team of security personnel, led by a deputy superintendent of railway police, Nausad Ali, would escort the passengers. The team comprises 20 personnel of Railway Protection Force and nine of Government Railway Police.
Hussain said the Karnataka government had assured Dispur of security for Northeast people and the companies had promised them job security. Karnataka deputy chief minister R. Ashoka had visited Assam and Manipur recently.
Assured of security, workers and students from Assam, Nagaland and Manipur boarded the special train to rejoin their work in Bangalore, Goa and Hyderabad.
The workers are happy to return to the greener pastures. “Bangalore has been my bread-earning city for the past two years as there is no work here. We left it recently as were scared but have decided to go back as the government there has promised us security,” said Dhrubajyoti Konwar, 24, of Nopthar village in Golaghat district, who earns Rs 8,000 a month in a pipe factory in the Karnataka capital. “I left studies after my higher secondary (Class XII) and had no option other than search for work outside. I left for Bangalore with two of my friends and joined the factory. Once I resume work, I will do overtime so that I can send home more money,” the son of a farmer added before the train chugged out of Guwahati railway station this afternoon.
Sitting with him were six others from his village with whom he has been sharing his workplace and a rented house for two years. Most of them had left Bangalore after rumours about possible attacks on northeasteners spread following riots in lower Assam.
Dhrubajyoti’s friend Pabitra Hazarika, 26, said his family had six bighas of land in his village but could not cultivate it properly because of shortage of water and irrigation facilities.
“So I left for Bangalore in 2010 and joined the company. This time my brother Dipen is going with me so that we can earn more and send money back home for Bihu.”