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A not so “Happy Independence Day” post

Aug 16, 2012 10:27 IST

#Mary Kom   #North East India   #ThatsJustWrong  

by Kima

It saddens me to write this piece especially after my last post The impact of Mary Kom’s bronze, and what it means for the North East where I was looking forward to the positive changes Mary Kom’s success in the Olympics would bring to us North Easterners.

Instead, today, on our Independence Day, every person from the North East staying outside the North East is living in fear and insecurity, because mobs of “miscreants” are moving around in a systematic fashion, attacking people from the North East and shouting “Sab chinki log ko mat chhodo”.

Chinkis, as we are “lovingly” called by most Indians, or “waiters” as people like gkhamba prefers to call us, are indeed a lovable lot to most Indians. So lovable that we are sometimes recognised as Indians only when somebody from the North East performs well for the country, but otherwise we are just chinkis, Chinese, waiters, watchmen, momos, terrorists, outsiders, dog eaters, baby eaters. A laughing stock.

A Mizo family. Reuters.

When the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that people uttering the racial slur “chinki” could be jailed, I wrote about the actual reasons behind this law, and how it is more about the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 which protects SC and ST people from discriminations and abuses based on one’s origin and background. Yet, most of the people on TOI website, First Post, various blogs and discussion forums like Sharell’s blog, Echo of India etc. were more infatuated with the name itself, slamming it as a ridiculous law.

Well, more than three months have passed since the MHA sent that order out. And how many people have actually been booked under this Act so far?

Zero.

Now where are all the whiners who whined about how unfair this law is? People from the North East are still being called chinkis everywhere, nothing has changed for them. In fact they are now being ridiculed even more than before because of this “unfair” law. So I guess this is your definition of “fair” huh?

Ah… India.

Yup, the Government loves to act as if it cares about us, but as many people say, at the end of the day, it just needs the North East as a buffer zone against China and Burma.

Forget about how people continue to call North Eastern people chinkis. Now gangs of misinformed Muslims are roaming the streets attacking chinki people. Yup that’s the word they're actually using. One of the attackers caught by the police said smses have been forwarded around, telling them to attack every chinki people they can find for killing their Muslim brothers in Assam and Burma!

I ask you once again, where are all those people who claim the word chinki is just a harmless term?

And this attack on people from the North East -> Sense, it makes none.

There is an ethnic violence in Assam between the Bodos and Bangladeshi immigrants. However unfortunate that incident may be, both sides have suffered a lot. Of course there are arguments and counter-arguments about how some of the Muslims are not illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, while other articles claim the Assamese Muslims too are against the Bangladeshi immigrants, and so on…

See, I am not getting into that topic. This post is not about who is right or wrong over there, as it is a very controversial and sensitive issue.

But when did it ever become a communal clash? Blame the great Indian media for giving it a communal color.

And when did it suddenly become a “Muslims versus North Easterner” issue? What did Mizos, Nagas, Manipuris, Kukis, Khasis etc. ever do to the Muslim community and how are they related in any way to the Bodos or the Burmese?

Every day, I read the newspaper with much anticipation and anxiety. “Another new attack on people from the North East, by people from a minority community”, the newspaper says. Ah, political correctness and semantics. They can be so funny sometimes. Who exactly is the minority here again?

As much as I appreciate the Social Media for bringing me the latest news possible, unfortunately, it is also a great medium to spread rumors. Or are they just rumors? And until that news is confirmed, the only thing a person from the North East can do is quietly panic. “Two Manipuris in Bangalore hacked to death by Muslim mob” – I panicked until the news was discovered to be false. “Tibetan battling for life after being stabbed in Mysore” – I decided not to panic, until I found out it was true. “Muslim cleric in Andhra Pradesh issues fatwa to all chinkis”. Now should I believe that? See, that is the situation we are currently living in.

I spoke to a Mizo friend of mine in Bangalore regarding this incident of targeting “chinkis”. He asked the same questions I asked earlier, “The Assam issue was never communal. How did it become communal? And if it’s becoming communal, shouldn’t it rather be “Muslims versus Hindus” instead of us being the victims? How did we, most of us Christians, ever get in the middle of this, just because they’re afraid to attack the Hindus?”

Bodos are (mostly) Hindus indeed. But again, that is definitely not the solution. Muslim community leaders are playing a great role in cities like Pune, telling their people to stop this madness. There is a great out-pour of sympathizers from the Muslim community, condemning this violence against people from the North East community. If we put every Muslims in the same bucket as those who are attacking us, then how different are we from those who attack us? Likewise, people in Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram etc. have been asked not to retaliate to the Muslims living in those states.

We need a strong voice to reach the Indian masses. And that is exactly what I wrote about in my previous post about Mary Kom. A lot of Indians are educated about the North East, but those are (usually) not the ones who discriminate or attack us. There is a huge class of people who are unaware of us, totally ignorant, and such people are not penetrated by tweets and blog posts like this.

We really need to take a kaleidoscopic view of this situation. Even if this current situation cools down and North Eastern people are no longer targeted, there are still many chances of such a situation flaring up again in the future. What if, say for example, somebody from Meghalaya murders a prominent Hindu swami or a popular politician? Can you confidently say Mizos, Nagas, Manipuris etc. will not face the brunt of the retaliation?

Can you?

Yup, that is the insecurity we will always live in. Happy Independence Day to you all.

Meanwhile, yes, you can continue with your jibes on chinkies because, as you can see for yourself, it is utterly hilarious. </sarcasm> Cheers!

Kima is from Mizoram, brought up in Tamil Nadu, and has been blogging since 2004. He goes by the name "Mizohican" in the online world, and most of his posts are about the North East and his experiences across India. He has been working at Webchutney, a digital agency, in Mumbai for the past four years now.

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