Bangalore: A large number of students and professionals from the Northeast are continuing to leave Bangalore. Rumours in the aftermath of Assam clashes have led to panic and a sense of fear and as many as 11,000 have left over two days.
Meanwhile, three trains are slated to leave Bangalore Central for Guwahati on Thursday night as well.
There's an exodus from Hyderabad and Pune as well, despite assurances from the police and the governments.
Living in Bangalore for over a decade, many of those who want to leave are students or professionals. Even while the home minister and police watched helplessly, panic took over.
"Our relatives in the north east are calling us back due to security reasons," said a student who was about to flee Bangalore.
Karnataka state police chief Lalrokhuma Pachau blamed the situation on rumours through social networking website Facebook and SMS.
He said, "People claim they have received anonymous messages and saw Facebook updates. They should not panic as there is not a single attack anywhere."
The government got into damage control with confidence-building meetings all through Thursday. Northeastern associations were called to meet Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar. Also, a helpline was announced and patrolling enhanced. But if it was all just rumour, why were special trains deployed?
"We can't do like that, we can't prevent them from going," said Shettar justifying the move.
Even as other religious groups showed solidarity, the fears remained unabated. At the same time, more rumours of Manipuri students being attacked spread, even though not a single complaint has been lodged.
A similar scene was being played out in Hyderabad and Pune. The police in Hyderabad were on high alert after 45 per cent of the 1,700 IT people living in the city had reportedly fled.
"There are about 1700 people from the Northeast living in the IT city. Almost 45 per cent of them have left the city in the last four to five days. It is mostly because of pressure and worry from their families. The situation in Hyderabad is normal. We want to tell people not to believe in rumours. We are holding meetings to build confidence. Security in certain areas is being beefed up purely as a confidence building measure," said Hyderabad Police Commissioner Tirumal Rao.
A sense of fear prevailed among Northeasterners in Pune as well. While some downplayed the fears, many went back home not willing to take a chance.
"We are not under any sort of threat in Pune. Our families back home are worried about us. So we are returning home," said a student.
While another said, "Once that I leave I will never come back to Pune again."