Leader Writer: Wangkheimayum Bhupendra Singh
A day after the nation celebrated its 66th Independence Day, people in the North East region woke up to a jolt. More than five thousand people from the region had fled Bangalore after reports of attacks and threats on them started doing the rounds in the city. The exodus from Bangalore closely followed the reported attacks on people from the North East in Pune, leading to several people leaving the city. Reports of attack on the people from the region were reported since August 8. It is believed to be the direct fall-out of the recent Assam killings. There are also reports of doctored MMSs doing the rounds in Pune provoking the attacks there. The MMS clips circulated as reported display purported footage of violence in Assam and have already been dismissed as bogus by the Pune police. Around a dozen people have been arrested by the Pune police for their alleged involvement in attacks against NE students in the city. Amidst much assurance and appeals from the government of Karnataka, central government and the regional state governments to remain calm, students have however continued to exit in droves. With growing reports of threats to the people of the NE in Bangalore, the Union Ministry had also provided two special trains for the students hailing from the region.
With the Independence Day spirit high in the air and with the newly acquired identity of the NE after Mary Kom brought home a much coveted Olympic medal, everyone had been clamouring for national integrity. Post the London Olympics and the efforts of the Olympians from the region; for once it had seemed that the identity of the NE had entered the consciousness of the people of the other states. However, all this were hampered by the assaults on students from the region at Pune followed closely by threats including an August 20 deadline for the people of the region to leave the cities including Bangalore. The central and the concerned state governments have already issued appeals to the general public especially the people hailing from the NE to remain calm and not to panic, dismissing the threats as just rumours. The government have also provided telephone helplines. However, it would do no good if they fail to take up some concrete actions before the perceived threats become part of the reality. Notwithstanding all these, the present developments have already created a fear psychosis in the hearts of the people. What Delhi and Karnataka have been dismissing as rumours has already started doing the damages. Assurances alone cannot pacify the people. Security measures for the people from the region should be taken up at the earliest. Dismissing the threats as only rumours will do no good; the government should take up actions and ascertained that such events do not happen in the future again. The government should also not forget that several students have already been assaulted at Pune, and those who have already faced it would not be able to accept such threats as mere rumours. It would need much more than just assurance on the part of the government to win back the confidence of those victims and the people of the region.
People of the states where the threats and assaults have been reported should come out and join hands with their concern governments and win back the confidence of the NE region before the issue gets out of hand. For once instead of politicising an issue, the politicians ought to look at the issue at hand with utmost sincerity, and realise that it could snowball into a major issue and national shame. Such a gift, with a communal tinge to it, is unaccounted for,and is least expected on the Independence Day of a country which was built with secularism as one of its basic foundations.