Despite several assurances from the Indian mainland in view of the recent exodus of northeast people from Indian cities, so far there has been no talk of compensation. Manipur has been deputing top ranking officials in Pune and Bangalore to liaise with their counterparts there on the safety measures, which was followed by a visit of the state Works Minister Dr Khumujam Ratankumar Singh on a SOS mission to Bangalore. On his invitation, the Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka R Ashoka had visited the Northeast states including Manipur to instil a sense of security among the Northeast students and the professionals from the region. The Centre was also quick on taking the initiative to restore confidence among the people of northeast. They talk as if sixty years of racial discrimination could be brushed off with state assurances of security for the northeast people studying and working in various cities of India. The Union government had even stretched their imagination to a hidden hand of the Pakistanis in the recent incidents of threats and intimidation. Many in the Indian mainland had chosen to interpret it as clashes between the Assamese Bodos and the Muslims rather than between the Bodos and the migrants. For the Bodos, it is about right to life and survival in their own land which had been threatened by the entry of migrants. Their land has been taken away and their employment has been robbed by migrants, which naturally becomes an issue with the indigenous Bodos. It does not matter to them whether the migrants are Muslims or Hindus. What matters most is that they have been robbed of their land and employment by migrants.
But the religious slant in interpreting the recent riots has complicated the issue and it is encouraging anti-northeast sentiment in the Indian mainland in the metropolitan cities of India, mainly among the Indian Muslims. However, following the assurances from the Centre and other states, students and professionals who had fled the Indian cities are slowing returning to the said cities, many through the special trains organised by the Karnataka government. Yet we must remember that the students and professionals had fled the insecure cities with money in whatever available transport from their own pocket or through money transfers from their parents. And the flight tickets were awfully high then. Will somebody take care of this bill?
We had earlier questioned the panic and resultant exodus specially of the Manipur students and professionals, in the backdrop of a few threats and intimidation. We have to examine our own position in the various Indian cities. Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh are among the Indian cities thickly populated by Manipuri students and professionals. We look different and we are grabbing employment opportunities from the locals. As we resent outsiders grabbing jobs here in the state, there would certainly be resentment from the locals there. We agree that in a charged atmosphere such as the recent one triggered by prejudiced SMSs and MMSs coupled with the cases of discrimination and harassment a panic situation is bound to develop. But the recent exodus has also exposed our lack of resilience. Well, this is our viewpoint. What matters now is the Northeast students and professionals are returning to the cities where they study or work, in view of the assurances. So, we sincerely feel that these students and professionals should be adequately compensated, as the panic situation and the exodus was beyond their control. On the other hand, safety mechanisms should be put in places where large numbers of NE youths study or work, so as to prevent recurrence of the recent exodus.