GUAHATI, (Dr Walter Fernandes) — The situation of the NE people was reviewed at the meeting of the Peace and solidarity Forum, 24 August.
1. Return of those who have left Bangalore:
a. Two trains came back from Guwahati yesterday and about 30 persons had got ready to receive those who were returning. But the trains came back empty. It means that more efforts have to be made to convince people to return to Bangalore. Their colleges and their employers are waiting for them. Many have left even without collecting the deposit on their house which is a substantial amount. Some have even paid ten months’ rent in advance. That is a huge loss and it should not be tolerated.
b. It means that those who have gone back to NE should be convinced to come back to Bangalore. On this side, two dedicated numbers have been set aside for them. They are (0) 9845967545 and 9482396178. They can be contacted throughout the day. Please publicise these numbers. They belong to the civil society and humanitarian organisations. The effort has to be made both in Bangalore and in the Northeast.
c. Much of the work has to be done now in the Northeast. In order to encourage people to come back in NE you can put up banners in all the major cities and even rural areas of all the states that have people in Bangalore or elsewhere. In Bangalore the civil society groups have printed visiting card size cards with these numbers and a welcome message to give to the persons who reach the Bangalore starion. In NE you can convince people to return to Bangalore and give such cards with the above numbers as they start from the Guwahati railway station. Then phone and inform these numbers that people have started back from there. Tell them by which train they are coming and when they are likely to reach Bangalore. If you do that when they reach Bangalore they will find people waiting at the station to receive them.
d. You can also contact local TV chains that have teams in Bangalore and tell them to contact these numbers and get in touch with people from NE in Bangalore. These persons will give them a message that those who have left should come back. Let the TV chains record the messages and give them publicity. Newspapers can give them publicity too and publicise these numbers.
e. SCMI has offered space for an office for this purpose for the next two months. ISI has offered facilities for meetings. Two persons will work full time at the office in SCMI to attend to calls and communicate with various persons and groups.
2. Follow up of the Decisions taken at the last meeting
a. 3,000 copies of the card with the numbers have been printed. A4 size placards have been got ready and are to be printed. Also some banners will be got ready telling people that they are welcome back in Bangalore.
b. There were many reports of attacks but only about one out of four of them turned out to be genuine. The rest were only rumours meant to create panic among the people. FIRs have been launched about some of these attacks which are just around ten. FIRs of the remaining cases have been got ready. It is very important not to give credence to the rumours without checking. Their details will be put on the website as soon as they are verified. The rest are to be considered false. A group has been appointed to go round on a fact finding mission and that will be done on a priority basis during the next week. If there have been attacked FIRs will be lodged. Alternative Law Forum will do the main work on it.
c. Equally important is the fact that in very few cases they were by Muslims. In all other cases the attacks came from a mixed group of Christians, Hindus and Muslims. By and large these attacks seem to have come from groups of petty thieves and goondas who were using the present tension to make some money. They are not communal in character.
d. The attacks have been mainly in the Neelasandra and Wilson Garden areas where there is a substantial number of persons from the Northeast. Some meetings should be organised for the local people-NE face to face in those places. A meeting will be held on Tuesday the 28th. A group was appointed to identify persons and institutions where such meetings can be held. Colleges are probably the best places for it. Students of these colleges can be the link with other working people from NE. A group was appointed to initiate this process.
e. Another group has to be in touch with the Northeast, in order to get people who have returned to that region to come back, keep feeding with information from this side and ensure that they deal with the baggage of anger with which people have returned to NE.
f. A third group will meet the security agencies that have a big number of people from NE or Nepalis both of whom are under threat. They will get from them the names of those who have left Bangalore and try to find ways of giving them the message that they are safe. Two more groups that need special attention are young women working in beauty parlours and young men working in hotels. A substantial number of them have left and these businesses keep repeating that they cannot survive without people from NE and that they will provide them security. The third group will also keep in touch with them.
a. SCMI has offered a room at their centre on Mission Road for an office for this cause during the next two months. Two persons have to be based there full time. The office space is free but the persons have to be paid. We will have to find a way of collecting money for it.
b. The banners and posters have to be printed. That too requires money.
c. The eight to ten persons who will go round for fact finding on attacks, those who go around to prepare a list of persons from the security agencies, hotels, beauty parlors and other joints have to travel a good bit. That too requires money.
d. The two mobiles have to be paid for. Meetings of NE and local people have to be organised. That too needs some money. Ways have to be found of mobilising funds for these purposes.
With best wishes
Dr Walter Fernandes
North Eastern Social Research Centre
110 Kharghuli Road (1st floor)
Guwahati 781-004, Assam, India
Tel. (+91-361) 2602819
Fax: (+91-361) 2602713 (Attn. NESRC)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: http://www.nesrc.org