New Delhi, Jan. 31: A 19-year-old college student, son of an Arunachal Pradesh MLA, has died after being beaten up in south Delhi in what is suspected to be a hate crime rooted in a racial taunt.
Nido Tania, the son of Congress MLA Nido Pavitra, was thrashed by a group of seven people led by a shopkeeper at Lajpat Nagar on Wednesday.
The attack took place in the afternoon when the shopkeeper made an obscene comment about Tania’s blond hair and allegedly called him “Chinki”, to which the youth and his friends objected.
The incident comes against the backdrop of alleged harassment of African women by Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti and his supporters.
A preliminary probe revealed that Tania, a resident of Green Park Extension, an affluent neighbourhood, and three friends had gone to Lajpat Nagar to look up an ailing friend and had asked the shopkeeper for directions.
“Farhan, co-owner of the paneer shop, made some bad remarks about his hair. It led to a heated exchange,” said Rakesh Arora, who runs a mobile phone repair shop. Some other shopkeepers also made fun of Tania’s hair.
Tania allegedly smashed the shop window after he was called “Chinki”. Farhan, 25, and his brother Akram, 23, assaulted the youths and demanded Rs 10,000 as damages.
Alerted by another shopkeeper, the police took the boys and the two brothers to Lajpat Nagar police station.
“The cops made Tania pay Rs 10,000 to the shopkeeper for breaking the glass. It’s shocking that the policemen refused to register a complaint of racial slur, saying the matter was now settled amicably,” said J.P. Tamang, a student leader from the Northeast.
But the teenager, a first-year student of Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, insisted that the police register a case of racial abuse. “The two cops made him sit between them on a bike and brought him to the spot where the scuffle had taken place for an inquiry. But they asked Tania to leave, saying a compromise had already taken place,” said Nido Jose Apil, Tania’s uncle.
The boy was again looking for his friend’s house when a group of people, allegedly led by Farhan and Akram, attacked him with lathis. Rescued by some residents, Tania made his way back home, where his friends were waiting for him.
“He was very upset and went to sleep at 6am. His friends woke up at 2pm and tried to wake him up but he did not react. They took him to AIIMS, where he was declared dead on arrival,” Apil said. “Initial autopsy revealed brain swelling and death from internal injuries.”
Tania was in Delhi, where his sister studies, on a holiday.