TODAY -

NE boys and girls at the receiving end of racism in Delhi
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 03 2011: Reports of sexual harassment, physical assault and racial abuse against people of North Eastern region in mainland India have become disturbingly common in the last decade or so.

This is particularly more common in Delhi, the capital of India.

This was testified during a brief interaction between members of the Manipuri Students' Association Delhi (MSAD) and some Manipuri people working there with a team of journalists from the State on May 17 at Manipur Tikendrajit House, New Delhi.

The media team was on a press tour to Jaisalmar (Rajasthan) via New Delhi but cut short the trip to Jaipur because of the scorching heat in the western desert State, and later re-routed to Manali (Himachal Pradesh).

The latest incident of North Eastern people being victimsed in the national capital was reported by the Times of India (Delhi edition) on May 23 when it carried a news item about the discovery of the body of a woman of North Eastern region stuffed inside a bag after she was murdered 14/15 days back.

The report came a few days after the State journalists, students and professionals working at Delhi discussed informally about the threats and harassments North Eastern people have been enduring in different cities of India.

Besides many students and professionals working at Delhi, the brief interaction was attended by MSAD president Bijurekha, former president and advisor Malem Ningthouja and Dr Bhagat of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.

The discussion hovered around the two related topics of sexual harassment and moral policing.

During the brief interaction session, Malem Ningthouja narrated how the people of Manipur and the entire North East region were being victimised due to the racial outlook ingrained among majority of the mainland Indians.

Though women were more vulnerable, it was both men and women who have been enduring the brunt of racism, he said.

Recalling the numerous cases of murder, rape, physical assault, racial abuse and discrimination of all sorts, Malem explained the various difficulties and handicaps they face in seeking justice.

In most cases, police would not entertain complaints and they often refuse to register any FIR.

Even if FIRs were registered in certain cases under compelling situations, it became even more harder to pursue justice once the matter reached the Court.

Pointing out that it takes years in most instances, to settle a case, most of the Manipuri victims are temporary settlers and they do not have the means and resources to pursue their cases to the logical ends.

Ultimately all the cases met dead ends and justice was always denied.

A few years back, a few enterprising Manipuri youth struggled hard and opened a cyber cafe at Gandhi Vihar.

The cafe was running well and profitably.

But not long after, local people in cahoots with some local thugs not only vandalised the cafe but also threatened its owners, forcing closure of the non-local enterprise.

As anticipated, police refused to register any FIR.

Interestingly, many enterprises were being run by non-Delhites but nonetheless mainland Indians who have common physical features and traits, and their business were left untouched.

But when it came to North Eastern people with Mongoloid features, the Indian (of mainland India) bigotry was there for every one to see, said a Naga youth from Mokokchung but staying at Delhi.

Again, some lecherous local people made sexual advances to two Manipuri women staying at Gurgaon.

When their demand was brushed aside, the helpless women were beaten up blue and black.

Taking serious exception to such assault and humiliation, Manipuri students staged a protest demonstration there at NCR (National Capital Region).

However, the protesters were attacked by the local people in full view of local police.

When the protesters approached police for help, they simply said, "Didn't we warn you not to go there ?" .

To a query about some Manipuri youth who have been lazying around in the capital city neither studying nor working as well as girls who are known to dress immodestly, the MSAD functionaries conceded that the association has no capacity to police them.

They also highlighted their dilemma on choosing certain culture as the standard one in the backdrop of different communities of Manipur who have been staying at Delhi, have their own distinct culture.

However, Dr Bhagat said that he did not face any kind of harassment of discrimination at his work place.

"Perhaps, this could be because there are very few Manipuri people working in JNU.

They don't see any threat.

But there is a threat perception among the local people in other sectors such as engineering firms, call centres, BPO companies etc where the number of North Eastern employees is swelling year after year", he remarked.

"Even as the people of North Eastern origin have been facing harassment and discrimination of similar nature, we are unable to put up a united front to take on the common challenge collectively.

This may be attributed to the various contradictions among North Eastern States and diverse political views," noted the MSAD functionaries.

They also lamented that the State Government perceive student bodies as anti-State elements and that it shared little concern for security and welfare of students studying in different cities of India.

Nevertheless, they admitted that legislators from the North East region help students from time to time in their own individual capacity in the absence of any concrete policy or structure.


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