What began as an isolated communal conflict here in the remote state of Assam, a vicious if obscure fight over land and power between Muslims and the indigenous Bodo tribe, has unexpectedly set off widespread panic among northeastern migrants who had moved to more prosperous cities for a piece of India’s rising affluence.
A swirl of unfounded rumors, spread by text messages and social media, had warned of attacks by Muslims against northeastern migrants, prompting the panic and the exodus.[In NYT]
The passengers speak about the string of rumours about an imminent attack on Assamese people. “It started off in Bangalore over SMSes and rumours that spread fast, but now there are talks about possible attacks in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu around Eid on Monday. We are confident about the situation in the state, but for our family members who live hundreds of kilometres away, any rumour causes great concern,” says Mohan Bohra, an Assamese who works as a security guard at an IT company in Chennai.
Nishant Gogoi says that when he heard that a fellow Assamese in Bangalore had been attacked, he decided to pack his bags. “The construction company I work for and all the people I know in Chennai have assured me that I won’t face any problem. But honestly, I feel no one can ensure my safety if something untoward were to break out in Chennai. It is better to return after the tensions have completely subsided,” he says. More:
The 50-paise terror campaign
Saritha Rai in The Indian Express: Ironically for India’s tech hub, technology came to bite it in the back. SMS threats circulated in great waves. On social networks, doctored photos of bleeding limbs, bloody faces and videos with hazy faces made the rounds. Local television stations endlessly aired footage of the panic.
It is like nothing that tech-savvy and global Bangalore, India’s IT hub, has ever seen. The government, the police and railway officials were taken completely by surprise as thousands of Bangalore residents of north-eastern origin started thronging the ticket counters and platforms at the city’s railway stations, bus stations and even the airport. They all were frantic to take the first available means to return home. It was nothing short of an exodus. More: