New Delhi: 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.
"Whatever may have happened in Kokrajhar and other areas should not be used as an occasion to fan rumours to create an environment in other parts of the country that people from the Northeast feel insecure," he said.
The Prime Minister said the what is at stake is communal harmony and so people of the Northeast should see that any part of the country welcomes them.
The PM said he is in touch with all chief ministers of various states.
He said the government will do its utmost to assure that the children from Northeast feel secure.
The PM said "this House stands stand united in support of all people of Northeast."
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.