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Stop treating Northeast people as aliens!

By Salome Phelamei | Last Updated: Friday, November 7, 2014 - 19:49
Salome Phelamei
Solitary Reaper

The recent spree of racial attacks on the people of Northeastern states in some parts of the country, particularly Delhi, have left me in a state of shock and grief.

What infuriated me so much is that we are being forced to live in fear even in our own country.

Like any other citizen, people from this region too have the right to freedom of thought, movement and of course, the inherent right to live with dignity.

Most of us came to Delhi - the national capital, in search of a better life - for studies, jobs, businesses, etc. While the city has richly blessed us in many ways in the form of good education, great jobs, it does not spare us from the hands of cruelty in other ways.

The violence against the people of Northeastern states has aggravated recently despite many promises from our so called lawmakers. This reflects that nothing has been done so far other than paying mere lip service.

Isn't it weird that we have been attacked because we look different or we have a different culture? And yes, I don't mind being called a 'chinky' or a 'Chinese'. We may look different in our appearance, but the truth is all of us belong to one species – Homo sapien.

Don't we know that all human beings are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights? So why discriminate and treat us as if we are extrinsic or belong to some other species?

India is known as a nation that embraces and tolerates cultural diversity at a global level, but the reality is actually not as perceived.

I have myself encountered many unwanted incidents, including racial teasing and taunting in Delhi. There have been times when I have been refused accommodation by landlords simply because I came from a certain part of the country. Such horrendous attitude of the people hurt so much that I still feel bitter about it.

The ever increasing violence or stereotypes against the Northeastern women in Delhi is a matter of huge concern. But the situation won't improve until and unless locals do away with their narrow way of thinking towards us and treat us with respect.

Sadly, Northeastern girls are often tagged as 'cheap and easy' despite the fact that they too come from respectable homes with morals and ethics. There are many incidents when they get teased and molested even in the presence of their own brothers and male friends from the region.

To make matters worse, the Delhi police have many a times refused to file cases or entertain complaints filed by the victims from the region. They too possess stereotypical outlook about Northeasterns having “loose characters” and “deserving” such treatment. Instead of helping victims, police ask ill-befitting questions and harass them. Police's apathy and their pre-conceived notions towards the Northeastern people has, to some extent, worsened the scenario, making them an easy prey for assaulters.

While most of the incidents go unnoticed, some make the headlines. Almost every day, there are reports of rapes, molestation, sexual harassment, violence and murders in newspapers.

But till date, has the government done something in this regard to prevent the crimes? Nothing. On the contrary, the assaults are getting uglier making life almost unbearable for us.

When Nido Tania, an Arunachal student was beaten to death after an altercation with shopkeepers, in Delhi's Lajpat Nagar market, politicians like Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal visited the protest site and promised strict action against the culprits. But all of that summed to nothing constructive.

It all started after the shopkeepers mocked Nido's hairstyle and he in turn threw a stone at the store, which cost him his life.

Several similar cases remain pending in the courts. But I doubt if justice will be delivered at all or that the perpetrators will be punished for the heinous crimes.

The scenario has become so deadly that it compels me to compare the issue with Chinese incursions in Arunachal Pradesh. Just like the people of Arunachal who have stood by India during incursions, the government also has the duty to protect us and not leave us to our fate.

My idea is not to ask for a quid pro quo, as we will always do everything to protect our motherland India, but I would like to express my genuine perceived feeling of alienation.

To put it in short, the government should start taking some serious steps in this direction and help save our integrity before it's too late. Also it's not just the government, but we as fellow citizens, should think of more ways that will help bridge the gap between the mainstream population of India and the Northeastern people. 

First Published: Friday, November 7, 2014 - 19:49

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