GUWAHATI, Aug 18 – The reality for Northeasterners in New Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai is somewhat different from the rumours going round. Unfortunately, the real picture has been ignored by many.
Even as a large number of people have taken trains to return to Assam and rest of the Northeast, they seem to have been motivated by a sudden spell of apprehension. Some have endured threats, others have moved out due to concerns expressed by family and friends.
Another aspect of the exodus is that it is mostly those engaged in petty jobs like security guard at business establishments, and workers at hotels, loading and unloading business, etc., who have been the most vulnerable to verbal threats and intimidation.
Malicious text messages and hearsay too have prompted the mass exodus.
Speaking over phone, Amit, a resident of New Delhi, said he has not heard of people from the Northeast being threatened even though he knows several of them. “The Delhi police is fast in its response and will not allow such things to happen,” he remarked. However, he admitted that stray incidents could have happened.
For a large number of young men and women from Assam currently in Bengaluru it is business as usual. They have not received any threats or provocations and are quite happy to be doing their jobs. Saptarshi Das, an alumnus of NIT Silchar, told The Assam Tribune that some sporadic incidents have been reported in the local media. But that apart, the situation for people from the Northeast has not deteriorated in the city.
He and some others held rumour mongering to be the chief culprit for people returning home in significant numbers.
Avishek Sharma, an engineer based in Bengaluru, said that acquaintances from the Northeast have not heard of any threats so far. “Yes we are alert, but there are no signs that we should live in fear,” he mentioned.
There is, however, a section of people who would rather not take any risks. A group of Naga youths who arrived by train in Guwahati station revealed that they decided to come back from Pune after their families expressed concern. But they are eager to return to the city once the rumours cease.
Manoj Pegu, who worked as a security guard at Consolidation Construction Consortium of Bengaluru said after reaching Guwahati railway station by a special train that it was people engaged in petty jobs such as private security guards, hotel workers, drivers, etc., that were mostly the targets of threat and intimidation.
Pankaj Gogoi of Jorhat, who worked at a multiplex called IONX in Bengaluru said that there had been incidents of intimidation and pushing and shoving of workers from the Northeast Bengaluru.
“It is people engaged in petty jobs that are most vulnerable. Things started deteriorating after August 10 and we were told to leave Bengaluru before August 20 by some persons of the locality we lived,” he said.
Bikash Phukan of Golaghat, who had been working as a security supervisor at a departmental store in Bengaluru since 2006 said that he and several of his acquaintances engaged in similar occupations received verbal threat and were asked to leave Bengaluru.
“This, together with pressure from home to come back made many of us return to Assam, and I do not think I will return in the near future,” he said.
Padam Chetry of Tezpur, who was working at an IT company in Bengaluru as a security guard, was supposed to leave for Himachal Pradesh for a new job but decided against going in view of the threat perception to Northeasterners outside the region.