New Delhi, June 7: The Centre is looking into a proposal to erect a statue to Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Tania in the capital as a symbol of its resolve to fight racial bias.
Tania, 19, died in the early hours of January 30 after being beaten by a mob at Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar market the previous evening, the fracas triggered allegedly by a shopkeeper’s racial taunt at him.
His mother Marina later requested the government to build a statue to her son and declare January 30 as “anti-racism day”. January 30 is also commemorated as Martyrs’ Day since it happens to be the day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.
“Yes, Mahatma Gandhi was also assassinated that day but we simply made the proposal because Tania was declared dead on that day,” Marina, wife of former Congress MLA Nido Pavitra, told The Telegraph.
“The government has only written to me that it is examining the request to erect a statue.”
Government sources said that although Tania’s case was a standalone one, it symbolised the widespread prejudice, discrimination and assaults that people from the Northeast faced in India’s metros, especially Delhi.
Tania’s death has become a rallying point for students and activists from across the Northeast, who have demanded a strong anti-racism law. A debate is on within the government on the need for a specific law as the assaults on northeasterners make up a very small percentage of hate crimes in the country.
On Thursday, Marina met junior home minister Kiren Rijiju, who too is from Arunachal, to press for a quick decision on her proposal.
The Union home ministry has assured Marina that Delhi police would recruit more personnel from the Northeast and punish the cops responsible for the delay in action on the day Tania was attacked.
Tania’s friends have said he had complained to the local police after the initial fracas but the cops took him back to the scene, forced him to pay a shopkeeper Rs 10,000 for a smashed glass window, and left him at the mob’s mercy.
Work is on to form a Northeast cell in each police station in the capital — a poll promise by the Delhi BJP.
A committee led by former IAS officer M.P. Bezbaruah, formed after Tania’s death to look into the causes of violence and discrimination against people from the Northeast and suggest remedies, has resumed its meetings with stakeholders.
It met a group of professionals today. “We’ll visit Chennai and hold another meeting before coming up with the final report on July 6,” a home ministry source said.
An interaction with the media is scheduled on June 12.
Northeast women too face stereotyping and sexual crimes. A study by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research and sponsored by the National Commission for Women has found that some 60 per cent of the region’s women living in the four metros have faced harassment and discrimination.
A large number of Northeast students stay in Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Chandigarh and Calcutta.
Tania was a first-year BA student in Jalandhar and was visiting Delhi to meet his sister. Delhi police had slapped murder charges before the case was transferred to the CBI on a request from Tania’s parents. On May 2, the CBI filed a chargesheet accusing four adults and three juveniles of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Parliament had condemned the continuing hate crimes against people from the Northeast, which then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had linked to “intolerance and prejudice”.