BANGALORE, Aug 18 (IANS): Exodus of northeast people from Bangalore to Guwahati reduced to a trickle -- about 100 Saturday from thousands till late Friday -- even as security has been tightened with the deployment of 600 Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel across the city.
"Only about 100 unreserved tickets to Guwahati were sold till 4 p.m. at the city station in contrast to over 8,500 tickets till late Friday. We do not see the need to operate a special train late Saturday, as the unprecedented rush of passengers to northeast has drastically declined," South Western Railway (SWR) Bangalore divisional manager Anil Kumar Agarwal told IANS.
With no direct express train to Guwahati from Bangalore Saturday, as it is operated thrice in a week -- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the absence of northeast people, especially students in thousands at the city railway station was conspicuous.
"We have sold a record 29,363 unreserved tickets to Guwahati and beyond on three consecutive days from Aug 15 to 17 at the city railway station and operated eight special trains with 151 coaches, mostly general second class and luggage vans to clear the heavy rush of passengers," Agarwal said.
The hundreds of railway employees and porters here heaved a sigh of relief to see normalcy returning at the city station, which was besieged over the last 72 hours with thousands of passengers heading to northeast cramming the platforms, booking counters, waiting lounge and restaurants, waiting for the elusive special trains and other trains to Chennai and Howrah.
"We had to scramble to arrange at short notice so many (151) unreserved and general second class coaches from our and Mysore divisions in our zone (SWR) and other divisions of Southern Railway, South Central Railway and Central Railway. It was an uphill task to detach many such coaches from regular passenger trains to assemble two-three special trains a day," Agarwal said.
Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa, who hails from Karnataka, visited the station and reviewed the arrangements, including security situation to ensure safety of passengers and visitors.
Interacting with about 100 northeast people waiting to board any train to Guwahati or Howrah via Chennai, Muniyappa urged them to cancel their trip and stay back in the city, as the state government had made elaborate security arrangements to ensure their safety and security of their property.
"No need to rush northeast unless you have to go for a holiday break or festival. Bangalore or other cities in the state are safe. There is no threat to your life from anyone. You have the protection of the state police and our people are hospitable here," Muniyappa asserted.
In view of the Eid festival Monday and uneasy calm in the city due to rumours and fear of attacks on northeast people to avenge the month-long ethnic violence in the lower Assam region, six companies (100 each) of the RAF have been stationed in sensitive areas where migrants are residing in large numbers.
"We have also intensified patrolling across the city with a dozen mobile squads and deployed additional state reserve police at vital installations, railway stations, inter-state bus terminals, shopping complexes and VIP areas to maintain peace and ensure law and order till Tuesday," Bangalore Additional Police Commissioner Sunil Kumar told IANS.