Raju Basmathi from Assam arrived in Bangalore on August 21—nothing extraordinary on any other day. But days after 30,000 northeasterners fled the city, scared by rumours that Muslims would attack them to avenge the death of their brethren in Assam, he was one of a handful on the train from Guwahati.
With the scare now diminishing, the real reasons for northeasterners fleeing the city are emerging. It was not so much the threatening rumours on SMS or the violence in Bodoland but, as many Bangaloreans told Outlook, a potent mix of politics aimed at polarising the city (elections are due next May), intelligence failure and a police administration that had looked the other way for years while northeasterners were being subjected to racial profiling.
“This was orchestrated to divert people’s attention away from political scams,” says a long-time resident. “But those who hatched the plot did not anticipate the scale of the consequence.” Adds Bangalore resident Lawrence Liang, who is of Chinese origin, “The exodus points to an underlying insecurity, particularly among the lower strata like security guards.” They are virtually ghettoised in areas like Neelsasandara and are among the majority who fled.
Even in Hyderabad, it was the security guards, maintenance staff in IT companies and MNCs in HiTec City or cooks in small hotels who fled. While the police refuse to give numbers, the deserted look in two Madhapur colonies—Siddique Nagar and Anjaiah Nagar near HiTec City—tells the story quite eloquently. The few locals who live in the area say at least 4,000 workers have left. Extra coaches on trains to Guwahati were filled with passengers, not because they had received any direct threat, but because folks back home were worried. There are some exceptions, though. Ajnabi Das Baruah, a management trainee, for instance, talks of having received tremendous support from her neighbours in the city. “My parents are worried,” she says, “but I feel I will stay on and just try to stay safe.”
Not everyone is so sure. While Karnataka DGP Lalrokhuma Pachau may claim that the police is cracking down “very, very seriously”, Benmila, a student, says, “How serious the police are in solving our problems can be seen from the fact that some of them gave a nine-digit mobile number for a helpline.” Police apathy is what migrants commonly recount and one of the main reasons why the panic spread so fast. Rev Dr Daniel Fernandes, principal, St Joseph’s College, has sheltered 38 boys and five girls because “they are afraid something will happen even when they walk on the road.” P.V. Joseph, a student from Manipur, says, “One of my classmates was beaten with sticks.” Another reported overhearing at a butcher’s, “Today you can buy meat, tomorrow we’ll butcher you.”
Rumours of four Muslim youth abusing some Assamese workers in Hyderabad’s Siddique Nagar triggered such panic that some Assamese citizens even sold their cycles and electronic equipment to raise money for going home. Though not a single attack on an Assamese has been reported in Hyderabad, people continue to rush home. It’s helped little by the fact that people like BJP president Nitin Gadkari continue to stoke the fires rather than help calm them. “The attacks in some parts of the country on people from the Northeast is unfortunate....,” he said, in commiseration. Only to drive home his own point: “These are being perpetrated by illegal migrants living in the country. There is a foreign hand in this.”
By Pushpa Iyengar in Bangalore and Madhavi Tata in Hyderabad
Apropos of Exodus 2012: Rout Cause (Sep 3), it’s a failure of the state that law-abiding citizens are not able to work and live our cities, but are forced to return to even riot-affected regions for safety.
Kiran, Grenoble, France
The polarisation of people on communal lines helps only one party, the BJP. Of course, in Karnataka no one can touch them! Some Muslims are sure to be framed, of course.
Nasar Ahmed, Karaikudi
The real reason for people fleeing is the old Indian habit of panicking. Nearly a 100 years ago, there was panic in Madras when a German ship docked in the harbour. More recently, there was panic when swine flu hit some people in Pune.
Anil P., Akola
The authors try hard to frame the bjp and Gadkari as being responsible for the ugly incidents involving Northeasterners in Bangalore. It only shows your biases, nothing else.
A.K. Aggarwal, Ahmedabad
This article is full of half-truths. Even when the facts are out, Outlook can’t name the culprits, but blames it all on the police, politics, elections, ‘racial profiling’....
Novonil Guha, Delhi
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Pushpa Iyengar and Madhvi Tata have used this article to tie themselves in knots to somehow make BJP or Gadkari responsible for the ugly scene of Indians being afraid to live in India. Shame on Pushpa and Madhvi for using such an incident also to only express their biases and for nothing else. If Gadkari's saying that there is a foreign hand is so incendiary, how about the statement of Palkistan being involved by their favourite Sonia Gandhi's party. One question to Pushpa and Madhvi: Why did you forget to name other BJP/RSS leaders? One suggestion: In your next article on this issue, please drag in all of them and you will look to be original and cereberal.
Read the real story behind the ASSAM EXODUS AND THE BLIND MEN OF HINDOSTAN PART I : ACTION
////BJP says this is about indians vs illegal immigrants
ULFA says this is about Assamese vs Indians
Congress & seculars say this is about muslims vs hindus
Iam confused what communalisn and secularism stand for in India ////
Roiters very well know it is between muslims and isaais.
BJP says this is about indians vs illegal immigrants
ULFA says this is about Assamese vs Indians
Congress & seculars say this is about muslims vs hindus
Iam confused what communalisn and secularism stand for in India
I read this article three times already, but yet to catch hold of the head or tail of it.
Can someone enlighten me about the rout (or root) cause of the exodus?
"This was orchestrated to divert people’s attention away from political scams ...."
What was "orchestrated"; rumors or the exodus?
If either of that is "orchestrated", then how does it jell with; "... not because they had received any direct threat, but because folks back home were worried"?
How does "folks back home" know about the local politics of Bangalore?
how is local politics of Bangalore/Karnataka is linked to Hyderabad and Pune exodus?
Isn't “Today you can buy meat, tomorrow we’ll butcher you.” enough; or there has to be more than "single attack on an Assamese", to trigger the panic.
How about more than single attacks in Pune?
It is understandable that Outlook has a certain idea to propagate; so bringing Gadkari in is ok. But where is "the real reasons for northeasterners fleeing the city are emerging"?
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