Attack on 19 year old Arunachal Student Brings India’s Racism back into Focus

Year 2005, a 19 year old girl from Mizoram was picked up forcefully and gang raped by few men in Dhaulakuan area of South Delhi.

Year 2009, a 19 year old Manipuri girl was murdered after an attempted rape by an IIT student in Munirka. Come year 2010, a 30- year Mizo woman was gang raped and dumped in Dhaulakuan area of South Delhi, while she was returning from work.

Every year, more than 20 cases of attacks on Northeast Indians are being reported in New Delhi itself. A report titled, ‘North East Migration and Challenges in National Capital: City’s silent Racial attack on its own countrymen’ released by the North East Support Centre and Helpline in 2011 highlighted that more than 78% of the Northeastern residing in Delhi are subject to racial discrimination and abuse over their appearance. These forms of discrimination more than often take forms of physical attacks, sometimes leading to death of the victim.

indexAnd the recent case of a 19 year old Nido Taniam, from Arunachal Pradesh, being allegedly beaten to death in Delhi’s southeast area is cruel reminder of the fear and insecure conditions, under which the people of North east have to constantly live with.

The attacks on Northeasterners are not only limited to the capital but also extend to the otherwise ‘progressive’ Bangalore. In 2012, a young 19 year old, Richard Loitam from Manipur, was mysteriously ‘murdered’ by two other fellow students belonging to the ‘mainland India’.

The Northeast exists outside the conscious mind space of the average ‘Indian’ and they are referred to as chinkis in the otherwise mainland. Ignorance, coupled with racial insensitivity, has created a culture of intolerance, who often, mock Northeasterners for their appearance and dressing style. In the recent case of Nido, it was some shopkeepers who decided to pass obscene remarks on the color of his hair. When retorted, they did, what they do best, attack physically, eventually leading to Nido’s death.

Little support for Victims

The recent case of attack on Nido and the police personnel, letting off the attackers by taking fine of Rs. 10, 000 (which of course seems more like an attempt to fill their pockets, rather than booking them for their crimes), is a clear indication of the apathetic attitude of the authorities towards North Easterners. Nido, fortunately is the son of an MLA in Arunachal Pradesh, who found support in Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs, Ninong Ering, who also happened to be from Arunachal. Mr. Ering had to personally go the Lajpat Nagar police station regarding the FIR, which is a clear indication of how the Delhi police treat people belonging to North East.

This attitude, coupled with inactiveness in booking the culprits is leading to steady increase in violence against North-Easterners.

Social Profiling

Racism is a disease-Mostly social and moral in Nature. It finds its roots in the erroneous beliefs and propagated myths among the people. Respecting differences is not something which is thought in India, either in classrooms or in family lives. Thus, it keeps perpetuating.

The people from North East mostly belong to Scheduled caste/tribes and have mongoloid features in their looks. Thus, there are often mocked on the basis of their looks. Women are often seen as ‘easy’. The profiling is not only limited to the society but also form the basis of their jobs, with most of the North easterners employed in Salons, hospitality and Malls as sales personnel.

Recognize and Fight it

In May 2012, following the attacks over North East students, Yengkhom Jilangamba, in his article, Let’s stop pretending there’s no racism in India, wrote, that “the Indians, when called a racist country quite expectedly, either don’t take it seriously or the response will be to either remain silent and refuse to acknowledge this form of racism or, fiercely, to reject it. Ironically, most Indians see racism as a phenomenon that exists in other countries, particularly in the West, and without fail, see themselves as victims. They do not see themselves harboring (potentially) racist attitudes and behavior towards others whom they see as inferior.”

While seeking to give a solution, he further mentions that ‘the first step towards fighting it should be recognizing that there is racism in India. And the reason for fighting should not be because it is practiced against “our” own citizens but because it is wrong regardless of whether the victims of racism are citizens of the country or not”

Thus it becomes evident, that If a long term solution has to be brought in then efforts has to be made, to spread awareness, decrease the cultural gaps and make consistent efforts to propagate a culture of tolerance and peace among the people. An initial entry point could be made by bringing forth changes in the educational curriculum like including like including cultural and moral aspects in it. Students should be made aware of history, cultures and even geography of the North-east. Efforts to make student understand the devastating consequences of racism can also go a long way in solving the problem. Making them realize that the ‘jokes’ or terms they use to describe North-eastern people is ‘not fun’. It is actually a abuse. Determined attempts needs to be made to make the citizens aware of the positive contributions and the common histories shared by people from different racial groups should be made. A fundamental aspect is also teaching the student to question. Rather than believing the propagated ‘myths’ the students should question them, their individual beliefs and see if they are racial may also serve fruitful for the purpose.

(Image shows picture of Nido Taniam)

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3 Comments

  1. Desmond Coutinho
    February 6, 2014
    Reply

    This is an opportunity to highlight any northeastern issue because of the run up to the elections. Delhi schools are already now committed to your common history positive education thing. I am not knocking education. I hope the AFSPA can go too. But Northeasterners do not unite around any issue. I refer you to the case of Irom Sharmila Chanu who is facing death threat via honor killing for planning to marry after her satyagraha is successful. You have a writer discussing marrying out. Usually no one is killed. In this case Sharmila’s money has been stolen. And she has been kept in isolation in Manipur by Manipuris ruled as a form of mental and emotional torture designed to break her spirit. But no Northeastern press writes her story. You can visit her now for 20 minutes per fortnight. Longer if you work for the security forces and want to keep the AFSPA. Northeasterners if they stopped acting like crabs in a bucket might get some success. I am not attacking any of your ideas. In the past if I mentioned Sharmila I would be told she is no longer the issue any of the names you mention as they come and go are the current issue. A culture of blaming others to avoid taking responsibility. Sharmila’s next production warrant is for 29 March 2014. Now you may say nothing to do with the Mising. Perhaps. But if you unite you get more. And for now it’s the Manipuris stopping her and no group outside is trying to get her to Delhi where the politicians and press are to get things changing. If I point out far worse atrocities happen to ordinary northeasterners in the northeast and the press don’t care you accept it but why won’t you assist with a campaign that embarrasses those who are unjust towards northeasterners. My agenda. I don’t like northeasterners as for culture that would be a good idea for them to work on. But I want the AFSPA removed and if you guys unite then change will come more quickly. I will not have any interest in the people who robbed my fiancee threaten to murder her. But if you want to reach out beyond the three Mising who read your stuff then perhaps go for unity. You don’t have to like me I dont care whether you live or die. But if you think there is anything postiive in unity and perhaps using Sharmila 29 march 2014 Mr Kejriwal has promised to meet with her then if he is still around. Work with her. Ok I go now. I expect little from Northeasterners. You all seem to prefer hating each other if anyone did want to conquer and abuse you they wouldn’t have to try to divide you. You do the work of abusers for them.

  2. Manoranjan Pegu
    February 6, 2014
    Reply

    Hi, Desmond…!!!
    Thanks for visiting and the comment. While I understand your anger…I also find no justification in blaming the entire North Eastern people for that. I appreciate your struggle for love and wish you success in it. Should there be of any help that I can lend out to you, I shall.

  3. Desmond Coutinho
    April 10, 2014
    Reply

    Hey there Manoranjan Pegu you are quite right. You let the comment stand many northeastern groups won’t. If you are serious about offering help then for now write her a letter irom Sharmila Chanu, Human Rights Defender, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru I M S, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795005, India. That’s it for now. Just let her know you support her. If you are ever in Imphal visiting days are now Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays you drop by the SSP at Imphal Central Jail (women’s prison) pay him 10 rupees and he gives you a chit for a supervised visit. The elections will bring change if only because Dr Singh has retired. And I hope AFSPA will be gone by next year. And yeah you’re right northeasterners are no different from the rest of humanity. Once AFSPA goes it’s your country do what you like with it. I will never offer a negative opinion on you or any one else for that matter once AFSPA goes. Oh and vote wisely. Take care for now. Still people are afraid to show her visible support but if there is a change in Government in Delhi then the those who have been abusing power in Manipur may be held to account. Like I said your country your choice. Once AFSPA goes I’ll be out of your way. Thanks for letting the comment stand.

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