North East Racial Attack, Can It Be STOPPED?

Madhu Chandra *

Protest against Racism at Saket Area, Delhi for stabbed 22 Years Old Manipuri boy on Feb 11 2014
Protest against Racism at Saket Area, Delhi for stabbed 22 Years Old Manipuri boy on Feb 11 2014 :: Pix - MSAD

Utterly shocked and indeed panic at the unprecedented hate crimes against the people from North East India in Delhi and now in other mega cities of India. A man from Manipur brutally attacked for not able to speak Kannada in Bangalore on 16 October, two other men from Nagaland attacked in Gurgaon on 17 October – threatening the entire North East people to leave Gurgaon and a young from Mizoram murdered in South Delhi on 17 October. These attacks are the unprecedented hate crimes against North East people for last almost a decade in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR).

The racial hate crimes on North East people began with sexual target to women from the region in and around 2005 in Delhi and NCR. A very few likeminded social activists, academicians, and lawyers were compelled to establish North East Support Centre & Helpline in 2007 to provide on spot assistance to the people from the region with the patronage of well noted personalities like Dr. John Dayal, member of National Integration Council and Dr. Udit Raj - standing MP, who also holds the National Chairmanship of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations.

Sleepless nights received the calls from youth men and women who have been targeted endlessly, some sexually abused by the landlords, office managers, institutional staff, some terminated from their jobs without any given reasons, salaries were held up for months etc. The North East Support Centre & Helpline team was panic that the racial nature of hate crimes will go out of control and possibly spread to other mega cities of India. That is exactly happening now.

North East Support Centre & Helpline team conducted pilot research project to highlight the plights faced by the people from the region so that the concerned Central and state governments could adopt the policy, law and plan of action to curb the racial hate crime at early stage.

First study conducted in 2008 revealed that 50% of sexual crime in Delhi and NCR were targeted to the women from North East India according the media clips of first six months of the year. The study predicted that if the government machineries fail to stop the sexual harassment meted to the women from North East region, will spread to any women in Delhi and NCR. This happened exactly. Delhi has become a rape national capital, where every 14 hour a woman is raped and every 18 hours sexually assaulted in Delhi and NCR. While the women from North East India continue to face the sexual harassment in Delhi and NCR, the racial attack on men and women from the region took place simultaneously.

Second research under the banner of Social Profiling of North East People conducted in 2009 revealed that 86% of North East people living in Delhi faced racial discrimination in India national capital. The Social Profiling against the North East people was the single root cause of sexual harassment and racial hate crimes in Delhi and NCR. North East people were considered a polluting people to the mainland societies, never considered as citizens of India, treated as strangers in own country and called cheap people. This mind set is not only found among the general public, but very much to Delhi and Gurgaon police, lawyers, judges and politicians.

Third study under the title “North East Migration and Challenges in Mega Cities of India” in 2010, which was released on International Women Day on March 8, 2011. The study was conducted to find out the challenge in North East region and reasons for migrating to the Delhi and other cities.

The major push factor of the migration was the lack of higher educational infrastructure in the region. After having managed to study up to the 12th standard in mostly private run schools, the most students are pushed to other cities in India in search of better education. Government run colleges in the region were hardly the choice of the students as they did not have needed branches of studies. According to the North East Council’s 2020 Vision, less than 5% of the students in the region choose government run colleges after passing the 12th standard.

The challenge of setting up the higher educational infrastructure in the region has been unmet and no initiative under taken from neither from the Union nor state governments. More will migrate and the challenges of sexual harassment and racial nature of hate crimes to the women and men from the region will continue.

What is the Next Step to STOP the Hate Crimes?

Having founded the North East Support Centre & Helpline and led the campaign against the sexual harassment and racial attack on women and men, particularly from the North East region, there is no easy answer and short cut to stop the unprecedented hate crimes. As the father of only one daughter, studying in Delhi trembles my heart with fear that this terror of hate crimes and sexual attack could be to anyone out there. With this fear and trembling, I put forward the following opinion, if these could be anywhere helpful to those in frontline, tackling the challenges.

Union, Delhi, and Neighbouring State Governments’ Mandate: The mindset of the people of Delhi and NCR is the root cause of the sexual harassment and racial hate crimes against the people from the North East region. Until and unless the mindset of the people changed, the hate crimes will not stop! To change the people’s mindset, there has been terrible game of throwing ball to one another’s court between Union, Delhi and Haryana governments. There has been a tokenism attitude from the previous Union government, when Delhi remains incapable and Haryana and Uttra Pradesh governments unwilling.

For any attempt to stop the hate crimes, reactive way of dealing will not bring any long lasting or permanent solution. The Union and Delhi Government has been dealing in reactive mode all these years. They remember when a crime takes place, and then forget until next crime arises. So is the same with police machineries.

A proactive mode of dealing the issue might help in preventing crimes. What has the government – Union, Delhi and Neighbouring States, done in bring mass education to change the mindset of the people? Union government must seek the help from the stakeholders in attempting to bring the mindset changed.

There has been denial consistently that the crimes meted to the people from North East region are the nature of racial hate crimes. Until and unless accept the reality of the racial nature of hate crimes, which is faced by the people of the region, perhaps any attempt to stop will be in vain.

The Law Enforcing Machineries:

There are serious lapses from Delhi and Haryana police machineries in tackling the hate crimes. They have taken the steps like introducing the 9 points guidelines to BPOs, setting up Delhi Police Nodal Office for North East people with Helpline services, and introducing new law to book the culprits of racial hate crime under the Prevention of SC/ST Atrocity Act.

Whenever a hate crime or sexual assault takes place in Delhi or Gurgaon against the people from North East India, the attitude of Delhi and Haryana police are most disgusting. They will not pay any attention, ignore, refuse, and delay. With much pressure, particularly from media and their top officials will act unwillingly. In 2009, Gurgaon police arrested a rapist after the victim has been running from post to post. Instead of locking the rapist behind the bars, he was offered to sleep on the bed reserved from police officers on duty. Soon the man was bailed out and walked free without justice to the victim. The news of letting the culprits to walk freely after committing crimes, encourages the perpetrators that they can commit crimes and can walk free easily.

There has also been a matter concern in dealing to change the mindset of the people from the way how justice is administered in different courts. The defending lawyer attacked the victims and victims’ lawyers in the court’s premises. Judges denied justice to the victims by allowing the defending lawyers knives with prosecutors for hostiles of witnesses. At one point, a judge in Gurgaon court mocked at a rape victim that women from North East sleep with others and go to court for financial gains. The way of rending justice to the victim and culprits will not help any effort attempting to change the mindset of the people. This must be corrected.

The Stakeholders and Solidarities:

The successful endeavours of North East Support Centre & Helpline were mainly because of the stakeholders and individual solidarities. There is a need for more stakeholders and individual solidarities to help in dealing with the challenges.

Few of the stakeholders when North East Support Centre & Helpline began were All India Christian Council, which deals with the caste and religious based human rights violation, and All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, All India Catholic Union, United Christian Action, and North East Students’ United Forum Delhi. Both print and electronic media gave enormous support, when some did much damaging.

Individual solidarity is very important. We had individuals as mentioned earlier, like Dr. John Dayal, who is also Secretary General of All India Christian Council, Dr. Udit Raj – standing MP, Mr. Anil Chamadia – Dalit activist and Journalist, and others.

More stakeholders and individual solidarities are indeed needed because the challenges is much bigger that the capability of handling ourselves. The hate crime against the people from North East India is going to be the issue beyond Delhi and NCR. Without the stakeholders and individual solidarities from other communities in the cities and states where our people are going to face the challenges, we will not be able to deal with.

Collective National Approach:

Time has come now to think beyond Delhi and the challenges of racial hate crime spreading to other mega cities in India. Here come the need of collective effort, seeking the stakeholders like the North East India student bodies, human rights groups and church groups in mega cities. I include church groups because most of the Christian communities from North East India have their church groups in mega cities. They are very important stakeholders to render service to their own people in the time of need.

There has been a major concern about dealing collectively. Our young men and women are vulnerable irrespective of their neither home state nor tribe or caste identity. They are targeted without differentiating their identities but the way responded has been mostly on the basis of one’s tribal or state. This has been one of the most challenging tasks and so it will be when we think nationally.

A national conclave of all North East student bodies in mega cities if state governments could facilitate, could be good to begin with. Otherwise, the officials of all students’ bodies in mega cities, representing the North Eastern states, can think of coming to one common platform to begin talk about it.

A Word must be said on the Manner of Demanding ILP in Manipur:

I have held my breath until now, though wanted to express few thoughts many a time. The concern for protecting the land and the culture of the state by its people and demanding Inner Land Permit is the fundamental rights of every citizen.

What concerns me the most is the manner in which the demand has been carried out? Because the manner the people of Manipur adopts either in good shape or bad will impact on the lives of all North East people in Delhi and other mega cities.

Student wings and other bodies raiding the Hindi speaking people living the rented house in Imphal and other places to find out their identities and people without proper identify proof were asked to leave the state etc are form of undemocratic approach. They should not take the law into their hand. Their concern of identifying the migrants should be appealed to the government and to the law enforcing agencies, never by themselves.

The incident like in the complex of National Institute of Technology at Lamphel in September will only make hard life to our young men and women migrated to mega cities in search of better education and their careers.

In the process of demanding Inner Land Permit, what about demanding the state government to introduce law, policy and plan of act like some them in Delhi. In Delhi, any tenant taking the house one rent need to fulfil certain requirements. First, Rent Agreement for eleven months between the landlord and tenant registered in magistrate office with one witness each for landlord and tenant with on spot photo graphs. Normal notary agreement is not valid in Delhi. Second, police verification of the tenant, which is done by the landlord with proper identify proof by filling the prescribed forms made available at police stations. So is also applied to family desiring to keep the servant or domestic helper in their home. This could be helpful while dealing with the concerns of the migrants, particularly the illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

* Madhu Chandra wrote this article for
Madhu Chandra is the Founding Member and Former Spokesperson of North East Support Centre & Helpline currently stationed at Kakching (Manipur) after rendering service at various capacities at Delhi and other mega cities of India.
The writer can be reached at madhuchandra66(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on October 19, 2014.

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