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Northeast MPs want a second panel

New Delhi, Feb. 22: The day a committee to look into attacks on people from the Northeast started work, MPs from that region have written to the Prime Minister demanding another commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge.

In a letter, the 39-member Northeast MPs forum said the government should immediately set up a commission of inquiry to probe the attack on Nido Tania and incidents of assault against people from the Northeast.

A committee of retired civil servants chaired by M.P. Bezbaruah began work today on a mandate similar to what the MPs have demanded. However, the MPs argued that they wanted the existing committee to continue.

“Immediate appointment of a Commission of Inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, headed by a retired SC judge from the Northeast who will inquire into all aspects of the death of Nido Tania, the role of the police, incidents of violence and assault against North-eastern people and suggest measures for improving security, safety and other confidence building measures against North-eastern people living in various parts of India, including Delhi,” the letter stated. Most are from the ruling UPA coalition.

Tania, a student from Arunachal studying at a university in Punjab, was killed by a mob on 29 January after an altercation with a shopkeeper in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar. Police arrested the accused only after protests compelled Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal to speak out.

Bezbaruah’s team today said their mandate was wide, including recommending “legal remedies”. It seemed to suggest an obvious overlap if a new commission is set up. “We are not suggesting the disbanding of this committee which can finish the work in two months. There may be a few overlaps but the judicial commission should be for the immediate problem at hand and submit its report within a month,” Inner Manipur MP, T. Meinya said.

Other sources in the forum, however, said that since the committee had already been set up, they did not want to tinker with the home ministry’s decision.

The forum has also asked the Prime Minister to allow Delhi police to recruit personnel from the north-eastern states. Quoting a Delhi High Court order, it urged that a special unit of Delhi police be set up to cater to crimes against people from the Northeast.