Thousands continue to flee Indian cities

The BBC's Yogita Limaye said Bangalore railway station was crowded for the third day running

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The exodus of people from India's north-eastern states living in the southern city of Bangalore continues with more migrant workers fleeing.

There are reports of people from the region fleeing the cities of Chennai (Madras) and Pune as well.

PM Manmohan Singh has appealed for calm and said peace "must be maintained at any cost".

Officials have blamed the exodus on "rumour mongering" linked to clashes in the north-eastern Assam state.

More than 300,000 people fled after fighting between indigenous Bodo tribes and Muslim settlers in Assam.

Fresh violence between the two sides was reported on Thursday when a mob set fire to a bus and a road bridge, reports say. At least nine people were reported to be injured in clashes.

The main railway station in Bangalore was flooded with migrant workers from north-eastern states for a second successive day on Thursday to catch three special trains to the north-east.

A senior Bangalore official told the BBC that nearly 15,000 people from the region had left the city since Wednesday, when the rumours broke out.

'Nothing has happened'

There are 250,000 people from the north-east living and working in Bangalore, which is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of India.

Many of them are students, security guards and workers in the hospitality sector.

A minister in the local government S Suresh Kumar told the Press Trust of India that the exodus was "not due to a threat factor, but due to the anxiety [of the people leaving] to be with their parents when Assam has been gripped by violence".

Map

The rumours of attacks have spread to neighbouring Chennai in Tamil Nadu state, and Pune in Maharashtra to the north-west, reports say.

Workers and students from the north-east - mostly from Assam - living in Chennai arrived at the railway station to board to special trains to take them home, one report said.

"Nothing has happened till now, but we are very sure something really bad is going to happen. Our Bangalore friends have said we have to leave," Bishnu, a migrant worker from Assam, told The Hindu newspaper.

Reports of a similar exodus are being reported from western Pune city, where many north-east people working in the city are reported to have fled.

The rumours of attacks have been spread through text messages and the social media. There have been a few reports of people being threatened to leave.

"We must work together to ensure that all people from other states do not feel threatened by rumour mongering and text messages," PM Manmohan Singh said.

Many young people from the restive north-east region have migrated to the cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in search of better jobs and education.

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