Government assurance fails to stop exodus to Northeast
As over 5,000 panic-stricken people from the north-east fled Bangalore and Hyderabad after reports of threats of attacks on them, the Centre on Thursday said there was no threat to anyone from the region living anywhere in the country and warned of strict action against rumour mongers.
“We must work together to ensure that all people from other states do not feel threatened by rumour mongering and SMSes. We have to maintain peace at any cost,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said. He added that he had spoken to Karnataka chief minister Jagdish Shettar and Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and was constantly in touch with Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
In Assam, Gogoi, while asking people not to panic, said that unidentified forces were fomenting violence in lower Assam and trying to destabilise the central and state governments. “It is true that there are some forces who are trying to destabilise the Centre and the state government...I do not deny that,” he told reporters.
The home ministry also went on a major fear-allaying exercise with home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde warning of strict action against those spreading rumours and home secretary R K Singh asserting that there was no threat to anyone from the north-east.
The ministry sent a fresh advisory to Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, advising the two states to organise community meetings to allay the apprehension of threat. The ministry has also directed states to monitor social networking sites for objectionable materials.
Officials said the state police have been working in conjunction with the intelligence sleuths to find out the origin of threatening SMSes. One person has already been arrested in Pune for circulating an objectionable MMS clip.
Meanwhile, two Assam-bound special trains were operated late Wednesday night and one extra train on Thursday in addition to the regular service to clear the sudden rush of passengers triggered by the rumours.