Hundreds from NE flee Pune, minister blames social media

Hundreds of Northeastern people have fled Maharashtra for their homes, fearing reprisals over the violence in Assam, even as the state government attempted to reassure them of their safety.

"Ninety percent of the people are planning to leave. The government will not provide us protection," one of the persons fleeing Mumbai for his home state told CNN-IBN.

In Mumbai, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan made assurances that protection would be given to students from the Northeast and hence, they need not panic.

State Home Minister RR Patil on the other hand accused social networking sites of spreading rumours and said the state police force would do everything required to ensure the security of students from the north east.

A crowded railway station at Pune on Thursday. PTI

"We are requesting the central government in helping shut down social networking sites found to be involved in spreading rumours," Patil said.

"I have asked police to set aside routine work if need be and concentrate on providing security to people from North East who live in Maharashtra," he said.

However, assurances from the government and police failed to convince the hundreds from north-eastern states who were fleeing from Pune.

The railways had to arrange for two extra coaches for Howrah-bound Azad Hind Express to deal with the sudden number of passengers wanting to leave the city.

A senior police official in Pune were trying to approach Google and Facebook to stop circulation of bogus videos on Assam violence through Internet and social networking.

Pune, which has witnessed isolated incidents of attacks on residents hailing from north east states, has been at the centre of the rumours that have since spread to other states. Eight attacks had been reported on people from north eastern states last week in areas like Kondhwa and Cantonment area of Pune.  Local youth have also been accused of threatening people hailing from the north eastern states.

Updated Date: Aug 17, 2012 10:03 AM

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