Gurgaon, Bangalore racist shaming: Why activists think assaults on NE youths were politically motivated
According to activists, it’s not just about some sporadic outburst of racist crimes, they rather see these attacks as 'politically motivated'.
New Delhi: When Nido Tania, a 20-year-old student from Arunachal Pradesh, was killed in broad daylight at Lajpat Nagar in Delhi in January, it led to a huge public outcry. Television anchors frothed at the mouth, activists cried racism and there was the routine platitude from the political class. After that nothing seems to have changed on the ground. Attacks on the people from the Northeast have continued across the country.
In the latest incident, two call centre employees belonging to Nagaland were brutally beaten up by Sikandarpur in Gurgaon on Wednesday night. There was no big reason that could have triggered such an incident. On October 14, an engineering student from Manipur was physically assaulted in Bangalore by men who allegedly demanded that he "speak in the Kannada language or get out".
The Bezbaruah committee, which was formed after the incident, says over two lakh people from northeastern states migrated to Delhi between 2005-2013 and nearly 86 percent have faced some sort of "racial discrimination" in metropolitan cities across the country. There has been no action on its recommendations so far.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked for a detailed report on the Gurgaon incident from the Haryana government. "We’ve identified the assailants and have sent our team to nab them. Also, we’re sending a report to the Centre on this incident,” a senior police official from Gurgaon said. He adds that more than just crime, it is also a problem of mentality which needs to change.
Every time an unprovoked incident of hate crimes resurfaces — when either a boy is attacked or a girl is molested — a TV channel debates the issue and the very next day things fall in routine with police probing the issue and eventually the matter dies down.
More than 300 major and minor cases of assault against northeastern people been registered in Delhi-NCR in a year. According to activists and social workers, it’s not just about some sporadic outburst of hate crime, they rather see these attacks as 'politically motivated'.
"These incidents against northeasterners are politically motivated, as certain political groups are instigating hate crime. It’s not just any particular political outfit. India is a land of diversity and a person can’t be discriminated because he or she speaks a particular language or they physically look different," says Binalakshmi Nepram, founder of Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network.
"The government has to be more vigilant than it has been in the past on the issue of northeastern citizens who face regularly harassment. The BJP promised to do so," said KG Suresh, senior fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation, who works on the NE issues.
Why has the government been sitting on the MP Bezbaruah Committee report on hate crime against the people from NE?
The 11-member Bezbaruah committee, had conducted a study into the problems faced by the northeastern people and recommended measures to reduce conflicts faced by them. The 82-page report paints a grim picture of the nature and extent of discrimination and attacks against the community.
The five key recommendations made by the Committee were:
- A new law against discrimination
- Fast-track courts
- Special police squads
- Interventions in education, social media outreach and legal awareness campaigns
- Bond with the power of sports.
“The report was submitted to the MHA in July, but till date no action has been taken. Why is the government sitting on it? The new government appointed Kiran Rijiju as MoS for Home Affairs, with special focus on issues related to northeast issues. He worked with us on anti-racial issues, but he too hasn’t responded on the Bezbaruah committee report,” said Nepram, who’s also secretary general of Control Arms Foundation of India.
Experts on the NE issues view it as an outcome of poor law and order situation in the country. "The basic problem, be it Gurgaon, Delhi or elsewhere in the country, is that there’s no respect for law. One thinks that if one can get away with traffic law violation easily it's also possible to squirm out of a criminal case. Moreover, the entire lower and middle order judiciary in India is in a dire state. Courts take 20 years to decide on a case,” said retired Major General Dhruv Katoch.
Katoch, who’s also a Gurgaon resident, said Indian political leadership and bureaucracy need a change of mindset. "I’ve seen many of them mentioning northeast as a 'peripheral region'. Do they mean northeastern states are outside Indian border?" questioned Katoch.
"I’ve been working in a BPO company at Gurgaon for the last four years, and experienced many people within our society treating us as 'outsiders'. We all are from different states — Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh or West Bengal — but after all we’re Indians,” said Asley Maibam.
Like, Maibam there are lakhs in Delhi-NCR and many more in other parts of the country, who’re compelled to think why northeastern states are not considered as a part of mainland India?
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