Racial attacks acts of pure cynicism

The death of Arunachal student Nido Tania as a result of a racist attack in Delhi does not seem to have helped raise the level of public morality. For, similar attacks on people from the northeast are continuing to happen with sickening regularity in the national capital, like the rape of a 14-year-old girl from Manipur, another rape of a girl from Assam, the attack on a Manipuri youth, the molestation of a girl from Manipur and the attack on her brother on February 28. According to reports, people from the northeast now want to quit Delhi, leaving their studies and jobs. A leading English periodical has reported that 81 per cent of the women from the northeast living in Delhi have been victims of harassment. The number of attacks on people from the northeast, registered with Delhi police, has increased from 27 in 2011 to 50 in 2012 and 73 in 2013.

The sooner realization dawns that hatred would beget more hatred and racial attacks would weaken the fabric of the nation, the better it is. If people from the northeast face racial attacks in Delhi, non-indigenous people living in the seven states of the region would be exposed to retaliatory violence. In fact, it is a measure of the maturity of the polity of the region that so far there has been none. What moral right will the country at large have to deny the northeast protective barriers like the ILP?

Non-indigenous people have also faced racial attacks in various parts of the northeast in the past, Manipur in particular and also in Meghalaya. But in the northeast these attacks are more often than not the handiwork of outlawed militant outfits or vigilante groups. People from the mainland must try to remove the sense of alienation from which the northeast region suffers because of long neglect and not do anything to deepen it.

The epithets that have been used in Delhi against people from the northeast – ‘chinky,’ ‘Nepali,’ and ‘Chinese’ – betray that these attacks are acts of pure cynicism, without any thought for the consequences. If a man is attacked in the streets of Delhi because he is a Nepali, then how can one not justify the demand for Gorkhaland state, when leaders of the Gorkhaland movement argue that Indian Nepalese do not have an identity? When a youth from Arunachal is taunted as a ‘Chinese,’ Indians betray their colossal ignorance that will only go to strengthen China’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh.

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