GUWAHATI, (Dr Walter Fernandes) – There seems to have been a setback yesterday (20 August). The propaganda seems to have worked on a certain number of persons and they left Bangalore on the day of Eid. But steps are being taken to stop it today (21 August). A coordinating committee that met yesterday chose a small group the Peace and Solidarity Forum to continue that work. They will continue the work in different ways. We understand that many of those who have left have decided to come back. They are to be made to feel secure when they return to Bangalore.
Those who feel the threat include also Nepalis and Tibetans because in our Aryan-Dravidian India we are unable to distinguish between different Mongoloid groups. To begin with, you may need more contact numbers. In case of an emergency in Bangalore here are the numbers you can contact
A coordinating number at Alternative Law Forum: 080-28888888. This number will be active only for a week and they will put the callers in touch with the right number.
Local numbers in Bangalore (prefix a 0 while phoning from outside Karnataka):
|CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS:
Deepu – 73537750203
Golan (Richmond Town) 9632511626
Manohar (Sanjaynagar) 9483950202
Lawrence Liang (Austin Town) 9880459668
Sebastian Devaraj (Ejipura/Koramangala) 9341224947
Pradeep (Indiranagar) 9845469420
Shakun (Bangalore East) 9448480954
Shravanti (Frazer Town) 9886022373
Hyder Baig (Cox Town) 9008484724
The group also identified things to be done immediately i.e. short-term measures and thought of some long-term measures. The group includes local civil society leaders, NE forum leaders as well as Tibetans. In the short term
Housing deposits. Many have left the rented premises without leaving a contact behind and have not taken their deposits which may be as much as ten months’ rent. That is a big amount. A few house owners have asked the civil society representatives to contact those persons and take their money. That cannot be done without their numbers or local people in NE getting in touch with them. You have the numbers above. The civil society groups request you to find such persons in any State of NE, give them these numbers and help them to get their money back. The NE leaders will take the initiative in Bangalore to prepare the list of persons and the civil society groups will play the main role in contacting the house owners. People in NE are requested to talk to those who have left without collecting their deposits. As far as possible persuade them to come back.
The second problem is that some house owners are refusing to give them their deposit. In Bangalore the members are telling such tenants not to leave their premises. They will take up the case with the house owners. If some have left already and the house owners have refused to give them their deposit, please contact the above numbers and the forum will take up the case with the house owners.
Education: Many have left Bangalore and may not be able to appear for the exams. In places where public exams are held, a request has been made to the state authorities to postpone the exams by a month. Many autonomous colleges have been very considerate. All the same they and others will be approached with a request to be considerate towards them about attendance.
Returning to Bangalore: The Forum will approach the Railways with a request to provide free passage to those who want to return to Bangalore. Groups are being formed to welcome them and promise them security when they return. Among others, they are approaching the Security Agency Association to identify persons who have left or feel threatened and will dialogue with them about their security.
The overall feeling is that a crisis is also an opportunity. For the first time most Bangaloreans became aware of the presence of the North Easterners in the city. Their number is estimated to be 2 to 3 lakhs. They come for studies or a job. Out of fear and a sense of isolation they keep to themselves. Bangaloreans see them going around, usually in a group of their own. Contacts between them and the local people are very limited. Both the local and NE persons present at the meeting felt that they should take this opportunity to establish links among themselves. They also thought that the local people being hosts should take the first step and more initiatives but the NE people should not lag behind. Some have taken such steps already.
For example, there is a Tibetan hostel at Koramangala. When the crisis began some neighbours who were looking at the hostel from a distance went in and talked to them. The response from the Tibetans was good and two of their representatives attended the meeting.
The NE leaders will get their people together as a confidence-building measure. Many more steps are required such as cultural shows by people from NE. These shows can also be combined with sale of NE handicrafts and talks or panel discussion on issues concerning them.
The overall feeling is that the NE people, women in particular, felt more secure in Bangalore than in Delhi or Mumbai. When the threat messages came that confidence collapsed and many left in despair. It is true particularly of women working in beauty parlours and young men and women in the hospitality industry as well as in security. They do not have access to the FacBook or to the email. As a result fear is the highest among them. They need greater confidence than the rest do. The NE leaders are trying to contact them.
Steps may have to be taken in NE itself. The media persons tend to interview those who return and sensationalise their situation for TRP. The political vested interests are bound to come together and exploit the accumulated anger with which they have returned. The civil society groups need to come together to take positive measures that can rebuild their confidence and encourage to return to Bangalore.
With best wishes
Dr Walter Fernandes
North Eastern Social Research Centre
110 Kharghuli Road (1st floor)
Tel. (+91-361) 2602819
Fax: (+91-361) 2602713 (Attn. NESRC)