Commul and casteist violence has long marred the fair face of India. But racial humiliation, discrimition and outright violence has been the unfortute lot of people from the Northeast in other parts of the country. Their misery has been particularly acute in the country’s capital. Over two lakh people from the Northeast have migrated to Delhi between 2005 and 2013. Shockingly 86 percent of them have reported facing racial discrimition. If Delhi is the worst offender with frequent incidents of racial taunts, beatings, molestation and rape of Northeasterners, metros like Bangalore and Gurgaon are not far behind. With the Centre now accepting the recommendations of the MP Bezbaruah committee, things may at last move in the right direction. While not specifying any timeframe to ect a tough anti–racial law, Union Home Minister Rajth Singh has announced that two new sections, 153C and 509A, will be incorporated in the Indian Pel Code. This will make racial slurs, insults, discrimition, forcible or violent acts against people from the Northeast, non–bailable crimil offences. Offenders can be jailed up to three or five years and fined.
Demands for an anti–racism law gained momentum in early 2014, after Nido Tania, a student from Aruchal Pradesh, was beaten to death in south Delhi by goons with iron rods. The Central Government constituted the MP Bezbaruah committee to look into the issues relating to discrimition and violence against people from the Northeast, ensuring their security, and suggest legal remedies and government measures. Apart from the need for ecting a new anti–racial law or making existing pel provisions stricter, the committee in its report recommended that investigation of the FIR be completed in 60 days by a special police squad and investigated by a police officer not below the rank of deputy SP or ACP, appointing special public prosecutors to handle such cases and instituting fast track courts to complete trials in 90 days. As of now, the Centre has decided to act upon recommendations for setting up a legal assistance panel in Delhi for needy people from the Northeast, providing them with compensation and monetary help, setting up a special helpline, appointing police personnel from NE states in Delhi police, and bringing about changes in NCERT and university level syllabi to educate people in other parts about the Northeast.
All these steps by the Centre will no doubt be heartening. But law and order being a state subject, the safety of people from the Northeast in other states will depend on whether the states are on the same page with the Centre. And laws, whether new or amended, will only go so far to safeguard our people outside. Meanwhile the graph of crimes against people from the Northeast continues to rise. ‘Chinky’, ‘Hakka’, ‘Momos’, ‘Chow Mein’, ‘chi chi chu chu’ are some of the epithets they constantly hear mocking their facial and physical features. Hemmed in by four countries including Chi, the Northeast has for long been plagued with chronic backwardness and insurgency while Delhi followed a policy of drift and benign neglect. In search of higher education and better job opportunities, there has been a large exodus of youths from this region to other parts of the country. It remains to be seen how much Prime Minister rendra Modi delivers on his pre–election promise of more security for people from the Northeast. To raise the profile of this region, the MP Bezbaruah committee has suggested holding regular tiol and intertiol sporting events in the NE states. As for the tiol media, it needs to highlight more issues from this region to bring it into the mindscape of the heartland.