Trouble in paradise; North-easterners flee Bangalore3 min read
You are on the phone, talking to a friend back home, making inconsequential conversation simply because you need to hear the sound of their voice to fill the void that two of your last five messages couldn’t. Ignorance and laziness put together creates a creature so detached that only a monumental hiccup in ‘planet me’ like the restriction on the amount of times you can text, ‘what’s up man’ and ‘nothing much’ back and forth, can make said creature curious about the why’s and what’s behind the situation. Harsh as it may sound, a lot of us fall under this mysteriously uninvolved category.
So we make a lot of noise, curse our luck and turn the internet on; multitasking with an almost Sherlockean zeal to get to the bottom of the story. What sorcery could be involved in the logic behind the ban? Of course there is nothing, not one thing, which can possibly justify this highly undemocratic situation.
The most violent incident I’ve witnessed in Bangalore was probably a fight over a basketball by a very enthusiastic team of girls in eighth grade, the aftermath of Dr. Rajkumar’s death or the New Year’s Eve celebration on Brigade road, and even that was on TV. But honestly, for a lot of people who’ve lived in Bangalore for a long period of time, it is very hard to imagine much less digest the information that an enormous number of North-easterners are fleeing the state out of pure unadulterated fear. Fear that the Muslims in Bangalore will attack them as revenge for the violent clashes between the Bodos and the Muslims in Assam. It was fear and panic that escalated with a decent dose of unhealthy rumours.
According to Frontline magazine, the counter-killing frenzy picked up in Assam after incidents involving unidentified gunmen shooting Muslims on July 6 and July 19. As retaliation, four men were lynched at a Muslim dominated village on July 20. To make matters worse, by the time the last few days of Ramzan came around almost a month later, no thanks to a handful of doubtful yet potentially dangerous messages, the North-easterners in other states were convinced that they were in a position of much risk and danger. In the next five days, over 30,000 left Bangalore.
Depending on their location in the city, the concentrations of those who’ve fled seem to vary. For example, some students from Indiranagar seemed confident about the safety of their area and did not see the need to leave. But in Koramangala, which is home to a large number of North-easterners, wherein once bumping into one of them unknowingly was common, now it’s hard to spot a handful even after looking. A lot of students agree that their main reason for leaving was not the prospect of being attacked, but the worry and distress their families expressed over their safety in Bangalore. While some shopkeepers, guards and beauticians returned to Assam or went into hiding in Bangalore, the absence of their helpers led to a lot of shops being shut.
With the Police beefing up security and Muslim Unions and leaders stepping forward with open arms, Bangalore still tries to convince the Assamese that they will always be welcome in the state. The few incidents of intimidation and assault saw the attackers being from varied ethnic backgrounds. As Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka on Saturday personally assured those in Assam about the safety of Karnataka state, five bodies were recovered from another district in Assam. While some begin their journey back to Bangalore, the body count in Assam continues to pile up.
Nishara K.P. is Reporter, The Manipal Journal and a student of Manipal Institute of Communication.
The views expressed in the blog are personal.