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Assam backlash rumours hit Karnataka, hundreds flee
Shubhadeep Choudhury/TNS

Bangalore, August 16
A day after the country celebrated its 66th Independence Day, the spectre of violence on ethnic and communal lines returned to haunt the people. Following rumours of imminent violence in the aftermath of Assam carnage, hundreds of North-East people continued to flee Bangalore, an IT hub, on Thursday.

A worried state government sent Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka, who also holds the Home portfolio, to the railway station on Wednesday night, but he failed to prevent the tide. A report from New Delhi said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to ensure the safety of people from the North-East in the state.

The panic figured in the Karnataka High Court today with Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen expressing concern over it. "Everybody in the state from other parts of the country is living in fear. What is happening," Sen asked. Hearing a PIL seeking action against those indulging in moral policing, a division bench, headed by the Chief Justice, expressed concern and enquired about the incident with the Advocate General.

When the Advocate General sought to link Wednesday's incident with recent clashes in Assam, the Chief Justice wondered as to how the two were connected. He directed the state to file in detail the security measures taken within two weeks.

The rumours rode on the back of a threatening SMS message. The panic follows violent clashes between two ethnic and religious groups in Assam.

"We have sold 4,649 tickets of general coaches so far today for Guwahati. Two special trains will leave for Guwahati this evening besides a regular train," Imtiaz, a railway official, said.

"Our police will offer full protection to you all. There is no reason to worry. Believe in our government and not in rumours," Chief Minister Shettar told about 200 north-eastern students and others today who arrived at his official residence.

"We have set up two helplines in the city police control room to complain about any threat or warning to you by anyone in person or through any medium. We have set up special squads to act against rumour-mongers and mischievous elements", Shettar told the students.

PM appeals for harmony

New Delhi: Decrying rumours about attacks on people from the northeast living in other states, PM Manmohan Singh Thursday made an appeal to remain vigilant and maintain peace at any cost. "We must work together to ensure that all people from other states do not feel threatened by rumour mongering and SMSes. PM said

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