GUWAHATI, August 25 (Agencies): Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka on Saturday urged professionals and students from the Northeast who had fled the southern state to return and assured protection and job guarantee.
“Karnataka and Bangalore city are very safe. The exodus happened due to circulation of rumours, SMS and YouTube videos,” Ashoka, on a three-day tour to the Northeast, told reporters in Guwahati.
“There has been no major incident of violence in Karnataka. There has only been a few minor incidents of verbal threat,” he said, adding he met many students and professionals, who fled Bangalore, and assured them protection.
Asked about the reaction of those whom he met, Ashoka said “I am sure they will return. We are one nation and all of us are Indians.”
He said 25 platoons of Karnataka State Reserve Police, 17,000 policemen, three companies each of CRPF and Rapid Action Force have been deployed.
Ashoka said the hospitality and security services sectors were badly hit in Bangalore because of the exodus.
“We have also postponed some exams and students who have missed their classes would be considered for attendance,” he said.
Ashoka, who met Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and briefed him about the steps taken by his government, said he was told by him that Assam government was in touch with the Railways and there would be special train services from Guwahati from September 1 to take back all those who had fled.
He said Karnataka government had contacted firms whose employees fled and promised to take them back in their previous jobs. “A help-line would be set up by Karnataka government for this,” he said.
He said 22 arrests have been made by Karnataka police so far and 17 cases registered. Of these, five were arrested for their alleged involvement in circulation of provocative SMS and video.
“We are investigating all the cases and results would be shared with the central government,” Ashoka said.
Assam Enviroment and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, who accompanied Ashoka, said “his visit to the state will boost the confidence and facilitate the return of our people to Karnataka. They now know they can return without fear.”
There are around 3.5 lakh Northeast people in Karnataka, of whom 2.5 lakh resided in Bangalore.
According to Karnataka government figures, a total of 34,627 persons left for the North East during the recent exodus.