Although the terrible journey fuelled by fear on special trains will always haunt them,the Assam residents who are back home after fleeing from workplaces in Karnataka and Goa now want to return. While one reason is the financial insecurity in Assam,the other is the growing realisation that their fear was based on unsubstantiated rumours.
We were wrong. It has been almost a week since Eid and not a single incident of violence has been reported in Karnataka and Goa. Now we are planning to go back, said Purna Basumatari,a resident of Noyapara in Chirang. Like the others,Basumatari had fled Karnataka following rumours that they would be attacked after Ramzan,to avenge the Bodoland violence in Assam.
It was only six months ago that Basumatarai had gone to Chitradurga,a small town in Karnataka,and found work as a security guard in a private company. There are no job opportunities here. At Chitradurga,the security agency offered me Rs 9,000 per month. There are several others from our area who are working there. I panicked when some people accosted me at a bazar and threatened me. They enquired about my religion and residence. I was so scared I identified myself as a Nepali. At that time news of the violence in Mumbai was spreading all over Karnataka. Some others from my village who had gone to Karnataka had returned home. I left after sending a letter to my company. Now I want to return, he said.
Basumatarais mother Khirini is with him. For a poor family like us,Rs 9,000 per month is enough… Let peace return to our village. I will let my son go back, she said.
They need the money to re-build their house burnt in the recent violence,added Basumatarais sister-in-law Rekha. If he stays here,he will have to work on farmland,which would fetch a paltry Rs 100-1,200 per month, she said.
Among those who want to return to Bangalore is Asikul Islam of Halaikandi district. He was returning home by a special train last week when he and his 13 friends were thrown out near New Jalpaiguri. With multiple injures,he was shifted to Assam from North Bengal Medical College. Islam plans to go back to Bangalore as soon as he recovers.
While Dhananjay Roys parents are debating whether to allow him to go back,their mind,they admit,is more or less made. Pointing out that Assam is burning but there is no trouble in Karnataka,mother Anjana said: If my son stays back,his future will be at stake. We will wait for some more time. Let peace come back here,we will allow Dhananjay to go back to Karnataka.
Dhananjay too worked as a security guard in a private company near Bangalore. He returned home on August 13 after his house was looted and burnt down,he said. There was no impact of the Assam violence in Karnataka. Suddenly the situation changed. Threat SMSes were sent after incidents of arson in Mumbai. One morning,some youths stopped me at a market place and asked me to explain why and from where I came to Karnataka. They asked for my identity proof. I panicked. I told them that I had deposited my identity card with my company. They asked me to leave without wasting much time, Dhananjay,a Noyapara resident,said.
Upen Brohmo of Bijni in Chirang is back home from Kanchwa in Goa,where he had gone less than two months earlier for a job. I used to get a monthly salary of Rs 6,000. Unfortunately,my house was attacked and I had to return out of fear. What triggered the scare was an incident in Mumbai… Rumours started spreading that we will be attacked… But no incident of violence has occurred in Goa, Brohmo said.
His sister Alari too wants him to go back. He should go if he wants to change our fortunes. What will he do here? she said.
Their mother Fulunchi,however,doesnt agree. He will stay and will work on our farmland. I do not know what will happen in the future. If death comes,we will prefer to die in our own home. Come what may,I will not allow my son to go back, she said.
Twenty five-year-old Ananda Basumatari of Chirang said he wanted to go back to Kanchwa too but his wife and parents wouldnt let him. I got married only two months back… My house was looted at the height of the violence. We have been staying in a relief camp. I came back only last week fearing attacks on Assamese. The panic was created by some local people. I was so scared that I left Goa,leaving behind all my belongings, Ananda said.
The Noyapara youth was working in Goa as a security guard. Nothing had happened in Goa but threat SMSes and an incident of arson in Mumbai caused panic. I had been getting something around Rs 5,000 per month. Now I am getting nothing here. I want to secure the future of my wife, Ananda said.