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PM on Nido: Unity at stake

New Delhi, Feb. 4: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today promised “every possible effort” to punish those behind the “shameful violence” blamed for Arunachal student Nido Tania’s death and “effective protection” to people from the Northeast.

“The attack on Nido Tania, the student from Arunachal Pradesh, is most condemnable. What is at stake is human values, amity in society, and the unity and integrity of the country,” Singh, a Rajya Sabha member from Assam, said in a statement on the death of the 19-year-old son of an Arunachal legislator.

The statement was issued after a delegation of Arunachal students met Singh and came on a day home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde announced a committee of ex-bureaucrats to look into the harassment of Northeasterners, taking a cue from Rahul Gandhi’s suggestion yesterday.

Nido died after allegedly being beating up by shopkeepers last week following an altercation sparked by their barbs on his hairstyle.

The Prime Minister did not refer to any racial bias in the incidents leading to Nido’s death and suggested it should be left to the probe. “While the actual cause of his death will be known only after the autopsy report is received, the violence which preceded his demise is tragic and shameful.”

Yeshi Wangchu, the president of the Arunachal Students Union Delhi whose team met Singh, said he had also received a call from Narendra Modi condemning the assault.

Nido’s family and students and activists from the Northeast have been protesting in Delhi for the past few days, demanding a probe by a retired Supreme Court judge and an anti-racism law among other things. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the demonstrators today and pledged justice.

The Prime Minister laid emphasis on Delhi. “People from other parts of the country like the Northeast are as much a part of the city as anyone else. All citizens need to work together to ensure our brothers and sisters from the Northeast feel safe in Delhi.”

According to a study by the Centre for NorthEast Studies and Policy Research and sponsored by the National Commission for Women (NCW), 60 per cent of the women from the Northeast living in the four metros faced harassment and discrimination. Such discrimination was the worst in the capital, the study said, with 81 per cent of the respondents from the capital saying they had faced it.

The committee of former bureaucrats on Northeasterners includes one member each from Arunachal and Nagaland, home ministry sources said, and added that it could be headed by former Assam chief secretary M.P. Bezbaruah.

Asked if an anti-racism law of the kind being demanded by the protesters was possible, officials argued that the purpose could be achieved by amending existing provisions.