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Bangalore: Five people were arrested on Friday in Bangalore for allegedly spreading rumours with the intention of creating panic amongst people from the north-eastern states in the wake of ethnic violence in Assam.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar warned again that the police are still looking for those who are trying to disturb the peace by deliberately misreporting facts.
Lakhs of people hailing from north-eastern regions spread across different parts of the country fear the rumours of being attacked in a backlash to the violence in Assam.
Thousands residing in Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore, have begun heading back to their home states.
According to reports, the panic erupted in the past couple of days leading to mass exodus after SMSes and chain mails warning people from Northeast region started doing rounds.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday banned bulk Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) across the country for 15 days in the wake of mass exodus of people belonging to Northeast region of the country from different cities following rumours.
A cellphone user can send a message to not more than five persons for the next 15 days.
Cutting across party lines, lawmakers in Indian parliament on Friday assured the people of Northeast that they would make best efforts to protect them anywhere in the country amid a mass exodus of young students and professional from cities like Bangalore over fears of Assam ethno-communal violence backlash.
"The parliament stands united in protecting you" went the message from Prime Minister to Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the country belongs to the people of Northeast as much as anybody else and assured them of all safety in the wake of the Assam situation that triggered an exodus of the region's people settled in other parts of India.
"This country belongs to them as to any one of us," the PM told Parliament amid reports of mass exodus from cities like Bangalore where the Northeast students and professionals stay in large number for work and studies.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha (BJP) Sushma Swaraj raised the issue and demanded security of the people.
"When I asked a group not to leave for home, I was left speechless when they told me that if even police in cities like Mumbai could be attacked then what is the state of their safety," said Swaraj and appealed to parliament to just not pay lip service to safety but act.
"Make helplines and give them numbers. Post police near malls. We should tell the people of Northeast that you are our brother and sister and we will protect you. You would not go anywhere, this is your country," said Swaraj.
Swaraj urged the people of Northeast to not leave cities of their work and in an impassioned appeal said the country "stands by them."
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was seen noting down the suggestions of the speakers.
Janata Dal (United) leader lambasted the communal forces and regretted that the country still is divided between religions.
He said the trains taking the Northeast people should have been stopped and they should have been kept back in the cities from where they were leaving.
Union Home Secretary R K Singh on Friday said the situation in ethno-communal violence wracked Assam is under control along with the situations in cities like Bangalore from where rumours of possible attack on Northeast people triggered an exodus.
Singh reassured that the people of Northeast in other cities are safe and the authorities will find out the people behind the spreading of rumours.
"There is no threat of people in Northeast as even community leaders have given assurances to the people of Northeast," said Singh.
In Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said there is no threat to the Northeastern people.
"Our police officials are investigating who are spreading the SMSes. We fully assure the Northeast people that we are with you," said Shettar.
At least 78 people were killed in the Assam violence between Bodos and Muslim settlers since July and countless were rendered homeless and sheltered in relief camps.
The state's Kokrajhar district also witnessed fresh violence since Monday in which one person died, another was attacked, his car torched and a bridge was set on fire as well.
Visits by the Prime Minister, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and other top leaders and ministers have failed to curb the cycle of violence in Assam while its repercussion could be felt across India with violent incidents in Mumbai and now rumour mongering in other Indian cities where the people from Northeast, especially youngsters, are either working or studying.