Mumbai, Aug 17: Panic stricken people hailing from Assam and other northeastern states continued to flee for home from various parts of Maharashtra for the third consecutive day Friday, officials said.
An estimated 2,000 people from the northeastern states were seen Friday morning jostling for space on crowded trains leaving for Howrah in West Bengal and Guwahati, Assam, from Mumbai’s Lokmanya Tilak Terminus at Kurla Friday.
This is in addition to an estimated 3,000 people who have already left Maharashtra from Nashik and Pune in the past three days.
The panic started after some MMSes and SMSes reportedly claiming that people from Assam and other northeastern states would be attacked after Eid-ul-Fitr, started circulating from some unidentified sources earlier this week.
Taking a stern view, Home Minister R.R. Patil Friday again warned that stringent action would be taken against those found circulating or forwarding such threat MMSes or messages on mobile phones.
“All people from Assam and northeast India are absolutely safe and have nothing to fear in Maharashtra. If they encounter any problems, they should immediately approache the local police,” Patil told Marathi private television channels.
Since early this week, an estimated 5,000 people from Assam and other northeastern states have returned home, leaving their jobs, education and houses in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik.
Pune Assistant Commissioner of Police Sanjeev Singhal Thursday assured the people there is no cause for the people from northeastern states to leave the city.
“They are apparently influenced by some MMSes being circulated and are leaving. We have appealed to their community leaders not to panic and avoid forwarding such MMSes,” Singhal said after holding a meeting with representatives of the northeast people in the city.
Last week, at least 10 people from the northeastern states, mostly students, were brutally beaten up, sending shockwaves in the community members settled here.
So far, police have nabbed 13 people in connection with two incidents of attacks in Hadpsar and Kondwa areas of Pune city.
In Mumbai, Assam Association of Mumbai president Paban Kumar Kataky expressed “regrets” over the “tragic incidents” and said people from the northeast settled in Mumbai are feeling apprehensive about the developments, but declined to comment on how many people have actually left.
According to Kataky, around 15,000 Assamese live, work or study in Mumbai, and another 5,000 each in Pune and Nashik.
Besides, there are another around 10,000 from the other northeastern states like Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland spread out across Mumbai and other parts of the state.
Kataky said, a majority of them are working with private companies or in the hospitality industry, while many youths are students.