There is uproar again in the nation. Protests are being carried out, police is asked to speed up their investigations and the common plea ‘We want Justice’ is resonating in the capital and, also, in other parts of the nation.
This time it is not any anti-corruption movement or the new political drama for the Lok Shabha elections, but the recent death of the 20 year old student Nido Taniam, who was brutally beaten up by shopkeepers in Lajpat Nagar following altercation over hair.
This is not the first time that news of racial discrimination against North-East masses has raised eyebrows on the, so presumed, ‘unified diverse India’ image of the country. In 2012, Richard Loitman, a 19 year old student of Architecture, who hailed from Manipur, was found dead after he was assaulted by his seniors in Bangalore.
The same year, Dana Sangma from Meghalaya, who was an MBA student in Amity University, committed suicide after being accused and humiliated for cheating in exams. In 2009, the 19 year old Ramchanphy Hongray from Nagaland was murdered by an IIT student for resisting rape. All these victims have their region in common, that is North-East India.
The region comprises of roughly around 40 million Indians with Mongoloid features having different skin colour, appearance, culture and language. North East has a history of being excluded from Mainland India, which time and again forgets that the region falls under our national boundaries.
Problems of North East Community like cultural discrimination in Mainland India, influx of refugees, issues regarding their identification, intra state boundary dispute, political incursions etc has never worried our policy makers.
Racial Discrimination which is carried out on everyday basis may not be very vigilant but ignoring its existence has aroused problems in past and which still continues in present. Our quiescent government and citizens suddenly wakes up when famous celebrities like Shilpa Shetty and Shah Rukh Khan are discriminated in foreign land. But when it comes to discrimination in the home country, the issue is only acknowledged when some tragic incident has taken place, probably one involving a death.
The Metropolitan cities – with all the development, infrastructure, education and job opportunities — lay bait on these grounds for the North-East populace, but they have shown their ignorant nature consistently, where every ‘Chinki’ or ‘Nepali ‘ has been discriminated at one point of time or another.
Jamia Millia Islamia’s Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, with the National Commission for Women (NCW), conducted a study recently and it was found that 60% of women from North East India who moved to major cities have faced serious harassment and discrimination. Besides being tagged as the ‘rape capital’, New Delhi has again topped the charts as it is reported to be the most intolerant city towards women from North East India at a staggering rate of 81% of women respondents facing racial discrimination.
Though Delhi alone can’t be blamed for being a crime city, but being the capital it definitely has to be more responsible. Also, it is the centre stage of all political activities at the national level.
In the recent scenario, where this issue of discrimination has become another playground for politicians, Rahul Gandhi is walking a step ahead as he took part in the protest organized for Nido Taniam and said that “There is only one India. And that India belongs to all of us.” Will Mr. Gandhi also answer that why this India is tolerating such ‘hate crime’ from so long?
North Easterners have been criticized for their liberal dressing, food and loud lifestyle, which supposedly tore the fabric of the Mainland India Culture. Alas! Perpetrators, who condemn such discriminatory acts, just have their intolerant attitude as justification.
Racism is not a new cultivated disease. It has been there, hiding itself behind the veil of superficiality that comes in complement with Urbanized India, Modern India or, by the name it is best known as, Emerging India. Though people may wear the latest branded clothes, may dine in the finest restaurants and converse in an impressive ‘English’ accent, they should ask themselves whether the mindset has really changed.
The stereotypical notions about races, gender and unwillingness to accept others’ identities, over time, have formed a package of malice that has rotten our society. It shouldn’t be surprising if we find all these ideas near us but it should definitely be alarming, for their assumed ‘invulnerability’ has caused damaged beyond repair. Authorities alone can’t be blamed. Yes, the laws have to be stringent but more importantly it’s their monitored implementation that need to be focused upon.
But majorly, emphasis should be laid on those vultures which have eaten our humanity and made us so furious in our approach towards others that killing or harassing has just become another act. In the end, the question revolves around the claimed unity of the country; ‘Are we living in the same county’?