| Youths participate in the rally in Shillong on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Feb. 2: Hundreds took to the streets of Shillong and Guwahati today to protest the racial discrimination people from the Northeast face in mainland India and to demand justice for Nido Tania, who died after an alleged racial attack in New Delhi on Thursday.
Tania’s last rites were performed today at Raga in Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.
According to CMO sources, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki, AICC general secretary Jay Kumar and MP Takam Sanjoy attended the funeral.
In Shillong, students shouted slogans against the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government. They were protesting the racial bias northeasterners face in New Delhi, where they are often branded Chinese nationals. The Assam unit of the Aam Aadmi Party also submitted a memorandum to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking action to ensure the safety of students from the Northeast. “There is a strong feeling in the Northeast that Delhi is not safe and free of discrimination for students coming from the region. This concern has been there for a long time and needs to be addressed urgently,” the memorandum said.
A delegation of students from the Northeast met Kejriwal last evening seeking immediate steps while a Facebook page, Justice for Nido Tania, has evoked large online support not only from people from the region but from other parts of the country. “Really ashamed of being part of a nation where people are judged by their appearances and worse are beaten to death if they raise their voice against the discrimination,” Munisha Chauhan, a sociology student of Delhi University, wrote on the page.
“All those culprits should be hanged, not imprisoned so that they get bail later. Stop racial discrimination, think of what the British did to you,” Palijore Tshering Bhutia, a student from Gangtok who lives in Calcutta, posted on the Facebook page. The page has already received over 25,200 likes so far.
The rally in Shillong began in front of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police office near Anjalee petrol pump from where it wound its way through Mawlong hat and Khyndai Lad before crossing Raj Bhavan, Barik point, St Edmund’s School and culminated at Arunachal Bhavan in Cleave Colony.
Students from other northeastern states studying in Shillong also took part in the procession, which was led by the Arunachal Students’ Union Shillong, Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) and student organisations from Nagaland, Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram.
“This is not the first time that this sort of incident has happened against our people from the Northeast,” KSU education secretary Donald Thabah said.
The KSU leader alleged that the Centre was not concerned about people from this part of the country and treated them as “second-class citizens” because of differences in culture and looks. He also demanded punitive action against the culprits.
Tania’s cousin Nido Nangam said he died because of negligence by Delhi police.
“The police instead of taking care of my cousin, who had been assaulted, dropped him back at the place of the incident,” she said.
Another student, Sunaina, said people from mainland India call “us Northeast, but treat us like we are from other country and every time call us Chinese”.
At the end of the rally, Kakyar Dulom, president of the Arunachal Students’ Union Shillong, addressed the gathering and a two-minute silence was also observed.
In Guwahati, students and young professionals from different parts of the region who reside in the city staged a protest in front of Dighalipukhuri. “Over the years we have seen that Delhi is not a safe place, we want a safe capital as many people from the Northeast go there for higher studies and to work,” said Debangini Ray, one of the organisers.
Social activist and National Youth Award recipient Ranjan Kumar Baruah said: “Delhi police need to be more proactive and they must become friendly towards people from the Northeast.”