Mumbai (AsiaNews) - New Delhi and Islamabad could be facing another
diplomatic crisis as a result of a recent major population displacement within
India. Hundreds of thousands of people from Assam have in fact fled Bangalore
(Karnataka), Mumbai and Pune (Maharashtra) after they received death threats
via the Internet. The messages, which were posted mostly on Facebook and Twitter, warned workers from north-eastern India that Indian
Muslims would take revenge against them for sectarian
clashes last month in the state of Assam. For India, Pakistan is behind
this hate campaign, but Islamabad has denied any involvement, calling on New
Delhi to back up its claims with evidence.
In Assam, violence between tribal Bodos and Muslim settlers left 80
people dead in July. This has sparked the panicked flight of about 400,000
people from both communities, some finding shelter in refugee camps set up by
the local Catholic Church. Tensions eventually spread to other Indian states
where Bodos and other ethnic groups moved in search of work.
Last week, panic began spreading when text messages and photos on social
networks began fuelling rumours. About 300,000 people from north-eastern India,
mostly students, crammed railway stations trying to escape, fearful they might
be targeted by Muslims for retaliation.
At present, the exodus has stopped and things are getting back to normal
thanks to cooperation among the various Indian states involved. However, it is
unclear who posted the first intimidating messages online. For New Delhi, the
culprits are in Pakistan. Islamabad has denied the accusations, calling on
India to show its evidence, which has not been forthcoming.
"Violence in Assam is localised with its particular history and context,"
human rights activist Lenin Raghuvanshi told AsiaNews.
However, for Raghuvanshi, who is director of the People's Vigilance
Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), such conflicts "have repercussions that
explode in internal conflicts fuelled by the nationalism of fascist forces."
In his view, "India's greatest threat is an internal exodus provoked by
internal nationalist groups (supporters of the Hindutva ideology) or external
groups like Muslim fundamentalists."