In Munirka the racist code for NE people is 'drunk and disorderly'

In Khirki, 'drug and sex rackets' was the RWA's racist code for 'Africans'; in Munirka, 'drunk and disorderly' is the RWA's racist code for 'people from the north east', espesically after they dare get a landlord's son arrested for rape of a minor; in Mumbai, RWAs have used 'terrorist' or 'non-vegetarian' as communal code to keep Muslims out of societies.

Kavita Krishnan February 18, 2014 21:43:43 IST
In Munirka the racist code for NE people is 'drunk and disorderly'

Editor's note: This post was first published on the Facebook page of Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association and politburo member of the CPI-ML. We are re-publishing it with her permission.

AISA activists Shehla Rashid and Sandipan Talukdar, and JNUSU President Akbar Chawdhary attended a meeting in the Vasant Vihar thana on the issue of racism in Munirka with representatives from the North East community and Resident Welfare Association (RWA) leaders. The latter claim that their meeting did not decide on targeting people of the NE, but was on a) landlords being free to evict 'drunk and disorderly' people; b) closing shops by 10.30 pm, c) stopping anyone from returning later than 11 pm to Munirka and d) installing CCTV cameras.

Well, a journalist tells me that the same RWA representatives told her this morning that by 'drunk and disorderly' they precisely meant people of the north east, because 'men and women from these communities drink together.' Now, on record, the RWA is going to deny saying this, and the cops have indicated that individual landlords are free to evict anyone. So, this profiling and eviction is likely to happen through the back door; and situations are likely to be simulated. People from the north east who happen to hold a party, are likely to have a knock on the door and provocation to fight, and if cops are called in, they are likely to deny that this is racism.

As someone who has lived in Munirka for over a decade, I would like to declare loud and clear that I, like many other students, activists, working women and men, return home at all hours of night. I have partied and shared drinks many many a time, with men and women both. I am appalled that now, such behaviour will be treated as grounds for eviction!

I have witnessed an incident in my building in Munirka where a woman at a party screamed — and said she had been hit by a man. But the landlord and the women of his family, instead evicted her and the other women at the party, calling them 'randi' all the time: at around 1 am, with no concern for their safety! These were not women from the north east, but I recall this to point out that what's going on here is both racism and sexism. When I intervened, I too was abused, and I too felt distinctly unsafe.

The MCD Councillor from Munirka, whose husband attended yesterday's RWA meeting (the urban version of a khap panchayat, for all purposes), is from the BJP, which shouted loudly against racism at Khirki! Many landlords in Munirka are Congress supporters, and are equally racist and sexist. The problem, therefore, isn't restricted to one party. But the thing is, is it inevitable for the Congress, BJP and AAP to all promote such racism and sexism? In the name of Congress's bhagidari or AAP's mohalla sabhas, will such a culture of exclusion and bullying in the name of resisting 'moral pollution' be strengthened?

In Khirki, 'drug and sex rackets' was the RWA's racist code for 'Africans'; in Munirka, 'drunk and disorderly' is the RWA's racist code for 'people from the north east', espesically after they dare get a landlord's son arrested for rape of a minor; in Mumbai, RWAs have used 'terrorist' or 'non-vegetarian' as communal code to keep Muslims out of societies.

In Munirka the racist code for NE people is drunk and disorderly

Representational image. AFP

The AAP is no longer in the government in Delhi. But let me take this opportunity again to flag my concern about the proposal to have 'Women's Security Squads' with members of local communities. Perhaps, as Rakhi Birla assures us repeatedly, such squads wont indulge in the more obvious moral policing of women who wear 'western clothes' or couples in love. But my fear is that the squads could, more probably, think it their bounden duty to profile and target some as 'dangerous' to women: which could include poor working class young men, the homeless or destitute loiterers both male and female, sex workers and poor women, domestic workers or street vendors who don't have the requisite 'papers', women who happen to be sharing a drink, perhaps with a man in a car as happened in Ghaziabad last year (read more here), men from certain profiled minority communities including Africans, Muslims, Kashmiris and so on... I was told by a woman friend recently that a Dalit woman in a Delhi basti, which till not long ago had excellent relations with Muslim residents, said to her that 'Muslim boys have started chhed-chhad with our girls' (ominous shades of the love jehad campaign at Muzaffarnagar).

Apart from racism, sexism and communalism, we also need to think about the RWA's tendency to be biased towards workers and the poor. The RWAs also play a big role in deciding the fate of street vendors according to the National Policy for Street Vendors, on which the 'chaiwala-led' BJP, the Congress and the AAP too are more or less agreed. RWAs have objected to and evicted vendors accusing them of being 'thieves': read more about a struggle by AICCTU in one such case and about the policy here.

Chaiwala Modi, aam aadmi Kejriwal and the 'socially just' Rahul Gandhi are all equally insensitive to the principle that street vendors should have an inalienable right to earn their livelihood, anywhere and everywhere, without any 'license', without extortion by cops.

We need an anti-racism law, yes. We also need some clear restrictions on the powers of RWAs, and even of individual landlords, and clear delineation of the rights of tenants. These rights have to include protection from arbitrary eviction, rent control to curb arbitrary extortion of excessive rent (common in Delhi), and protection from discrimination.

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