Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Home Ministry issues advisory to states

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Racial profiling of N-E people

From Our Special Correspondent

 New Delhi: Finally waking up to a series of fatal incidents involving students from the Northeast, the Union Home Ministry has asked the states to adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against ‘racial profiling and discrimination faced by Indian citizens of such states’.

In an advisory sent to all states and Union Territories, the Home Ministry has suggested stringent measures, including action against police officers, if they fail to act on a complaint or any information received from a citizen hailing from the Northeast regarding a cognizable offence.

The move comes in the wake of the death of two Northeastern students, Dana Silva M Sangma (Meghalaya) and Richard Loitam (Manipur) in Gurgaon and Bengaluru respectively, in April, amid allegations that they had fallen victim to racial bias.

The Home Ministry has said, “Where a complaint or if any information is received from a citizen hailing from the Northeast regarding a cognizable offence and no follow-up action is taken, then a serious view should be taken.”

“If the complainant is a member of the Scheduled Tribe then the provisions of Section 4 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act should be invoked,” the advisory says.

Toll-free help lines should be made available where services of any officer or any operator conversant with English must be provided since it is possible that the complainants may not be able to communicate in the local languages, the advisory states.

The latter points to reports that people originating from the Northeastern states are facing discrimination ‘as they are addressed with derogatory adjectives or face discrimination in the form of targeted attacks, assault, molestation and other atrocities’.

“This has caused considerable anguish and distress in the minds of the people from the Northeast,” it says.

“Quick action by the police would restore confidence not only of the victim but also of the community and send a clear message to the accused that such behaviour would not be tolerated,” the advisory states.

“When complaints are received from a person belonging to the North East, particularly from women, the ‘level of sensitivity and response should be of an even higher level,” the advisory further states.

The states have also been asked to arrange outreach programmes under supervision of Deputy Commissioners of Police or district SPs in areas of Northeast congregation to meet community leaders of such groups and address their concerns.

It may be added that following the death of Richard and Dana, Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma and his Manipur counterpart O Ibobi Singh had taken up the cases very seriously and had urged Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to initiate strong action.

Relatives of both the deceased had also complained against the institutions and the authorities concerned.

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