I was shocked when I read the report about some illiterate guards at the entrance to Taj Mahal, questioning a group of students and teachers of Handique Girls college recently, whether Assam is in India. They were asked to prove themselves as Indians, just because of their Mongoloid features. Such racial discrimition against Northeastern people compelled a woman from Aruchal Pradesh to flee from the spectators gallery at the Republic Day parade in the capital this year, only because a section of loutish spectators heckled her for being ’a Chinese’! Northeastern people are being harassed in almost every metropolitan city of India. It is shameful and disgusting for us in Delhi if we have to prove that we are Indians and Assam is in India. Such societal prejudice must be condemned and dealt with in the strongest possible terms, so that Indians from the Northeast can study, work and live without facing any harassment from the so–called ’mainstream’ Indians. Recently the Central government announced that some stringent laws will be ected and a few hostels will be constructed for the safety of people from the Northeast. But will such steps put an end to racial discrimition and societal prejudice against us in the long run? Perchance, no. Because if our so–called political leaders fail to infuse the feeling of fraternity among every Indian, and cannot bring any change in the mindset of the people, nothing can be achieved. To educate the people of Delhi about the history, culture and languages of the Northeast, relevant portions should be included in the textbooks of schools and colleges. The Union HRD minister should give emphasis on this point. Those who discrimite and perpetrate violence upon Northeasterners must be punished without delay. It is true that our states are burning with the problem of insurgency, but other parts of India are also disturbed owing to the Maoist rebellion. So Assam or other NE states cannot solely be labeled as ’disturbed area’ where citizens suffer and tourists are not welcome. It is pathetic that while our PM boasted of our ’unity in diversity’ before US President Barack Obama, the people from NE India continued to face racial discrimition from their brothers of ’mainland’ India.
Ashim Kr. Chakraborty,