New Delhi/Bangalore, Aug 17: Karnataka Police have arrested five people and are hunting for four more for spreading rumours of an impending attack on people from the northeast in Bangalore, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said Friday.
This is the first arrest since the rumour spread in Bangalore and other places leading to over 16,000 northeast people leaving the Karnataka capital since Aug 15.
In Bangalore, Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka, who holds the home portfolio, said three persons were arrested Friday for assaulting three people from Manipur.
Shettar, who is in New Delhi to attend Saturday’s BJP chief ministers’ meeting, told reporters: “Five people have been arrested and four more have been identified (for rumour mongering). They too will be arrested soon,” he said.
He declined to give more details about the arrested people saying investigations were on.
Late Friday Shettar met union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and briefed about the steps to taken to instill confidence among the northeast people in Bangalore and other parts of the state.
Bangalore is home to around 240,000 people from the northeast while another 100,000 are in other parts of the state. While several thousand among 340,000 people are students, most of the others work in hotels, beauty parlours and as security guards.
As part of the confidence-instilling efforts, Ashoka and senior civil and police officials Friday held a meeting in Bangalore with representatives of northeast people and of sectors employing them.
Shettar in Delhi and Ashoka in Bangalore said the number of of northeast people who left the city Friday was less compared the exodus Wednesday and Thursday.
However, South Western Railway (SWR) spokesman Syed Imtiaz Ahmed told IANS in Bangalore that “as over 8,000 unreserved tickets were sold throughout the day… we have arranged three special trains from Bangalore to Guwahati to clear the extraordinary rush of passengers to northeast. One train left at 4 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. One more will depart at 10 p.m.”
The special trains are in addition to the regular express trains to Guwahati and Howrah, which leave Bangalore late in the night.
In a bid to arrest the exodus from Karnataka, two Assam ministers’ Nilamani Sen Deka and Chandra Brahma flew from Guwahati to Bangalore Friday afternoon and talked to the hundreds of northeast people waiting to leave. Their efforts failed to convince the people.
“We have appealed to our people to put off their travel plans and stay back as the Karnataka government had assured them full protection. They need not fear for their safety as the authorities have taken enough measures to provide security,” the ministers told reporters at the city railway station in the presence of Ashoka and state Law Minister S. Suresh Kumar.
Though majority of those leaving said that they were rushing home for a break due to week-long holidays, some of them confirmed that they were going back in response to summons from worried parents and relatives, following rumours that they would be attacked after Ramadan in retaliation to the recent violence in Assam.