Guwahati, India. Two northeast Indians fleeing home on fears of retaliation for violence against Muslims in Assam state died and nine others were injured after being pushed from a moving train on Sunday, an Indian Railways official said, raising the prospect of more communal clashes.
The incident happened near the Jalpaiguri railway station in the northern part of the state of West Bengal, close to Assam, the official said.
“Two persons died, four are critically wounded and five suffered minor injuries,” the Indian Railways official said, declining to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Many northeastern Indians have fled cities like Bangalore and Mumbai after a spate of rumors by text messages and on the Internet warned Muslims may attack people from the region. The tension was stoked by a fight between Muslims and the indigenous Bodo tribe earlier this month over violence in Assam linked to land disputes and communal harassment that left scores dead.
More than 30,000 people from the northeast, many of whom migrated to cities for work, boarded trains provided by Indian Railways in the past week to reach the northeast, media reports said on Saturday.
Ringed by China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, India’s northeast is home to more than 200 ethnic and tribal groups. Their facial features make them stand out in other states and many migrants from the region are considered Chinese or Nepali.
On Saturday, India’s interior ministry said most of the threatening text messages and website images that spread panic in India last week originated in Pakistan.
Pakistan denied the allegations.
“We totally reject the allegations in this report,” a statement by Pakistan government on Sunday said.
“We find these allegations baseless and unfounded. Such unsubstantiated and irresponsible statements will not help create the conducive environment we wish to create.”
Arch-rivals India and Pakistan, who have fought three wars since their independence 65 years ago, regularly accuse each other of provocative acts.