Northeast imbroglio: Exodus continues, 15-day ban on bulk

Bangalore/New Delhi: Driven by rumours of impending attacks, the exodus of people from the northeast spread from Bangalore to neighbouring cities on the third day today, prompting the Centre to ban for 15 days bulk SMSes and MMSes across the country.

Notwithstanding assurances of safety by the Centre and the Karnataka government to the people of the Northeast, hordes of them living in Mysore, Mangalore and Kodagu made a beeline to the railway ticket counters here to return to their states.

More than 15,000 people have fled the city in the past two days following the rumours, officials said today.

The Railways had sold 9,718 tickets for the two special trains that headed to Guwahati last night, Divisional Railway Manager, Bangalore, Anil Kumar Agarwal, told PTI this morning.

Officials estimate the number of people from the northeast, including students, residing in Bangalore in the range of 2.5 lakh and 2.75 lakh.

In Chennai, over 1,000 people from the northeast were reported to have taken trains out of the city.

To check the spread of rumours, Centre today clamped a 15-day ban of bulk SMSes and MMSes across the country.

The decision was taken after reports of widespread circulation of SMSes and MMSes containing misleading information about Assam violence and threats of attacks to people from the northeastern region.

Under the order, no one from today will be able to send more than 5 SMSes in one go and more than 20KB of data through mobile phones during the ban period.

The exodus issue figured in both Houses of Parliament with members expressing solidarity with the people hailing from the northeast.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said miscreants spreading rumours that have led to people belonging to northeast flee from Bangalore, Pune and other parts of the country, should be brought to book and noted that at stake is not just unity and integrity of the country, but also communal harmony.