prime minister assured Muslim migrants from the northeast of the country that
they were safe as thousands continued to flee from Mumbai, Bangalore and
other cities on Friday, fearing a backlash from violence against
Muslims in Assam state.
media reports said that by Friday as many as 15,000 people had left
cities in the south and west, including Mumbai and Pune.
“What is at stake is the unity of our country. What is at stake is
communal harmony,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told parliament. I assure you … that we will do our utmost to ensure that our friends
and our children and our citizens from the northeast feel secure in any
and every part of our country.”
Muslims across India have been alarmed by clashes in recent weeks
between indigenous people in the northeastern state of Assam and Muslim
settlers from neighbouring Bangladesh. About 75 people have been killed
and more than 400,000 displaced.
Rumours of revenge attacks by Muslims have been swirling, many of
which have been carried on social media and mass mobile phone text
“It is the obligation of all of us, regardless of the party, that we
work together to create an atmosphere where this rumour-mongering will
come to an end,” Singh said.
The Assam violence angered India’s Muslims, who represent about
one-fifth of the population, and raised tensions in a country where
religious and ethnic divisions have simmered for decades, occasionally
erupting into communal blood-letting.