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Rahul push for anti-racism law

- Congress vice-president visits Guwahati, Diphu as protests and strikes mark the day

Feb. 25: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today said people from the Northeast and all other Indians must feel at home anywhere in the country.

Addressing a massive rally in Guwahati today, Rahul expressed regret about the death of Arunachalee youth Nido Tania in New Delhi and said there should be a strong law to prevent such incidents.

Tania died last month after being allegedly beaten up by some shopkeepers in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar, in the aftermath of his protest against comments about his hairstyle.

“Nido Tania, son of our MLA, was mistreated in Delhi. We think a law should be made against such attacks. Rather, I want a law which will ensure all Indians feel at home anywhere in the country,” he said.

Rahul, who addressed the rally amidst a strike called by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and protests by various other organisations across Assam, said he was not crazy about grabbing power.

“There are only two kinds of leaders in the world. One who empowers people and one who takes power away from them. I do not want your power, you utilise it to take Assam and India forward,” he said.

According to Rahul, leaders do not change the world. “It is the people who change the world,” he said. “People who have arrogance and anger will be eradicated, as India is a land of love and peace.”

In an oblique reference to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Rahul said those who claim they can change the destiny of India within 60 months, are actually insulting and ridiculing the people.

He said the people have sacrificed a lot and worked very hard during the last 60 years to make India what it is today.

Modi, who recently addressed a rally in Guwahati, had said, “You have given 60 years to the Congress. Give me 60 months, I will change India.”

Rahul asked supporters not to raise slogans against the Opposition or show anger because the Congress was a peaceful party.

Rahul, who is on a two-day visit to Assam, reached the LGBI Airport at Borjhar in Guwahati around 10 this morning. From there he went to Diphu in Karbi Anglong district where he had a two-hour interaction with leaders of seven autonomous councils in the state to discuss their various problems, amid a 12-hour Karbi Anglong bandh called by a students’ organisation.

In Diphu, Rahul sidestepped the tricky issue of the statehood demand of Karbis when local leaders asked for a commitment. “Either a separate state or an autonomous state...I do not have much information and I am not the only person to take a decision,” he said. He also called for an independent study on the demand for Hemprek Kanthim, a self-rule homeland for Karbis.

Like Guwahati, Rahul also harped on his pet decentralisation theme at Diphu, where around 400 leaders and workers from nine autonomous councils, were present. “There is a concept of centralising power at New Delhi or Guwahati. I am strongly against it. There will be no development if we do not go for decentralisation and empower the common man and the panchayats,” he said.

On the other hand, a 48-hour bandh called by the Adivasi National Convention against Rahul’s visit, partly crippled life in Goalpara and other lower Assam districts. National Highway 37 that runs through Goalpara district wore a deserted look on account of the strike.

The All Bengali Students’ Youth Federation burned effigies of Rahul, chief minister Tarun Gogoi, parliamentary secretary Chandan Sarkar, state minister Gautam Roy and MLA Ardhendu Dey near Kokrajhar circuit house today, to protest against alleged negligence of the Assam government in protecting Bengalis.

In Guwahati, KMSS supporters threw stones on vehicles ferrying people to the rally venue. Rahul who spent nearly an hour at Khanapara rally, said women’s empowerment would be the goal of the UPA government if it comes to power.