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Indian Rumors Go Viral, Fuel Mass Exodus



BANGALORE - Thousands of people from India’s northeastern states have fled the southern city of Bangalore amid fears that they will be targeted in attacks.

On Thursday the situation at the Bangalore railway station was chaotic, says the Times of India, as thousands of people from the northeastern states, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet nationals thronged to get tickets and leave the city.

Bangalore safe for northeast people: Cops shoot rumours read.ht/Qtq #Bangalore #ht yfrog.com/h2kvfgwkj

— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) August 16, 2012

On Wednesday, according to the Indian Express, more than 6,000 people fled Bangalore in a panic following rumors that they could be attacked in the aftermath of clashes between Bodo tribes and Muslim migrants in the northeastern state of Assam in July.

Most of the people trying to leave the city said they had heard news from word of mouth that there was a threat to their lives. “We got calls from our families in Assam that there is violence against northeast residents in Bangalore and south India,” Nirol Nagajhari told the Times of India. The Bangalore panic, adds the Indian Express, came a day after a 22-year-old Tibetan college student was stabbed in neighboring Mysore.

The rumors started circulating through SMS texts, which carried threatening messages about attacks on northeast Indians by a section of society, says the International Business Times. Reports said that attacks were to take place after Eid.

According to Outlook, Home Secretary RK Singh tried to quell the rumors, saying: “There is no threat to the people of the northeast in any part of the country.” Bangalore is safe, don't believe in rumours, don't leave Bangalore," Home Minister R Ashoka also said.

People from northeast flee Bangalore despite government's assurances toi.in/uXWvkb

— Times of India (@timesofindia) August 16, 2012

"The feeling of insecurity is so high that repeated attempts by the state government and the police to assure them of their safety haven’t reduced the number of migrants wanting to leave. The crowds on Thursday at the railway station were higher than on Wednesday," wrote Asha Rai on her Times of India blog. "It’s shocking that years, indeed, decades of social harmony has been upended by rumours, scary chain mails and smses," she added.

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