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Political outfits bat for Assamese students

The butterfly effect of the protests in Assam causing tensions in metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Bengaluru and Pune, is now attracting political attention. While thousands of northeastern Indians gathered at Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) on Thursday night to migrate back home, several political parties and organisations reached the scene.

Guwahati Express, Almost 3,000 people left
Homeward bound: Almost 3,000 people left the city aboard the Guwahati Express last morning, even as political parties appealed for them to stay. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

On Thursday night, members from RSS, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarti Parishad (ABVP) and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) were seen at Kurla LTT trying to stop the masses of migrant workers, students and families based in northeastern states from returning home. The party workers also made arrangements for water and other basic amenities for the masses of people waiting to board Kurla LTT-Guwahati express on Friday morning.

“We reached Kurla LTT station as soon as we came to know about the mass exodus, and tried to stop them from going back. But it seemed they were terrified,” said Kiran Damle, an RSS worker who was present at Kurla LTT. He and his team were present at the terminus till 3.30 am on Friday.

Some workers were also seen carrying placards in their bags. “We will be demonstrating against this exodus in support of these migrants at CST station,” said A Deshpande, member, ABVP wing. He claimed that they also tried to dissuade Assamese students studying in Mumbai from leaving the city.

“We ensured that we were behind them and they wouldn’t be harmed by anyone,” added Deshpande. ABVP members also began signature campaigns in order to garner support, which they claimed would be submitted to the state government.

“This is not an issue to which parties are trying to add a political colour. In fact, all parties should come together,” said S Deodhar, member, BJP North East India cell. One of the members from BJP’s rail commuters wing said that the state government has failed to instil confidence in young students who are fleeing the city.

“We will be carrying out a huge morcha on Saturday in protest of the recent riot and will come together at CST station. We will then assemble at Azad Maidan,” said M Kotian, member, BJP’s rail commuter wing.

However, those leaving for Assam didn’t care much for the political wooing as by yesterday morning, thousands had boarded the Guwahati Express. Railway police officials posted at Kurla terminus claimed that these migrants feared not only for their lives but were also worried about their families back in Assam.

Indians from the northeastern states claim that there have been rumours milling around that if they don’t return to their home state, they would be harmed. However, efforts to dismiss the rumours have been made by the Central government, right up to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who made a statement to the media that, “We must work together to ensure that all people from other states do not feel threatened by rumour-mongering and SMSes. We have to maintain peace at any cost”.

Nearly 3,000 people boarded the Guwahati Express that left last morning amidst tight security from both GRP and RPF. People from Manipur and Nagaland were seen at Kurla LTT booking counters waiting to book tickets. However everyone claimed that there wasn’t any threat and that they were returning for personal reasons. 

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