Attacked, say Nepali students in Bangalore
Threat complaints in Pune
They are demanding Nepali authorities make arrangements for their safe return to Nepal
NEW DELHI, AUG 20 - Following reports of ethnic clashes in India, Nepali students in the southern Indian city of Bangalore on Sunday complained of groups trying to attack them. And this despite reports of heightened security after rumoured violence against people hailing from Northeast India.
The "attacks" are believed to be connected with the recent ethnic conflict between the local Bodo community and Bengali Muslims in the northeastern Indian state of Assam.
The students said Nepalis are vulnerable to "ethnically-motivated attacks" as their appearance resembles that of people from Northeast India.
They are demanding Nepali authorities act promptly and make arrangements for their safe return to Nepal.
A bachelor's level Nepali student, Shiva (name changed), studying physiotherapy in Bangalore, said he survived an attack from an unidentified group on his way back from college on Saturday.
"I was with another Nepali friend and a senior from Sikkim (state in India) when a mob of 20-30 people tried to attack us. Fortunately, we ran with all our might towards the hostel," he said. However, the motive for the attack is yet to be ascertained and the mob yet to be identified.
"The college has now given us enough security and the situation seems to be under control," said Shiva.
A number of Nepali students who spoke to the Post over telephone feared attacks intesifying after August 20. "There are rumours that attacks will escalate once Ramadan (Muslim fasting for Eid festival) ends on August 20. Even our Muslim friends suggest we go back home," said a BSc Nursing student in Bangalore, who broke down on the phone.
"Almost all governments of northeastern states in India have made special arrangements for the return of their people, but the Nepali embassy in Delhi is still not ready to believe us despite real threats on the ground," another panic-stricken Nepali student said. "Apart from local students, we are the only ones left in the college." Colleges and universities have also decided to indefinitely postpone exams scheduled to begin on August 23.
The Nepali embassy, however, said it is closely following the situation and does not feel that any rescue efforts are required so far, as the Indian government has assured complete security to all Nepalis and people from the northeast.
"As per reports we are receiving, the rumours are baseless. If required, we will rescue students in trouble immediately," said Acting Ambassador to India Khaganath Adhikari.
Despite assurances from the embassy, no measures have been taken. A helpline for those in trouble or those wishing to register their complaints has not been established. Moreover, officials concerned at the embassy have not reached out to southern cities where the fear is most palpable and the possibility of a mass exodus is most apparent. There have been reports of many Nepalis leaving south Indian cities along with people from Northeast India.
Threat complaints in Pune
Reports of threats being issued against Nepali workers, mistakenly thought to be from Northeast India, have also emerged in Pune, Maharashtra. An unidentified group on Friday threatened a few Nepali workers from Achham district to leave Pune, according to the President of the Nepali Social Organisation of India (NSOI), Dileep Singh Bishwokarma.
"The workers were threatened after they told the mob that they hailed from Achham, which is audibly similar to Assam," Bishwokarma said. "We have taken up the issue with local police officials and have also handed over a memorandum demanding security for Nepalis residing there."
Posted on: 2012-08-20 04:00