Nido Tania’s mother and sisters in New Delhi on Friday. Picture by Prem Singh
New Delhi, Feb. 14: Nido Tania had once told his mother “I am India”, Marina Nido recalled today.
The 19-year-old Arunachal Pradesh student was lynched by a group of no less than eight persons in a crowded Lajpat Nagar market on January 29. All he wanted to do was get the address of his friend, Laskar Doye, who was unwell and was to be moved to hospital in an ambulance, Marina said.
Tania was a quiet rebel, felt Marina who herself was a victim of racial discrimination across Indian cities. Worst among these was Delhi and by far the best, Calcutta, where she was not discriminated against during the family’s visits on Durga Puja.
Tania had another distant Bengal connection. “When he was four years and eight months, Tania went to the Ramakrishna Mission school… he used to bring little memorabilia and books of Vivekananada and tell us, ‘I am India’,” Marina told The Telegraph.
Tania’s school is in Narottam Nagar in the eastern Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh. He studied there till Class X. The first-year sociology student from Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar first wanted to pursue computer science but later switched focus to humanities and insisted on sociology.
Marina and her husband, MLA Nido Pavitra, are practising Christians. The parents are holding an all-faith memorial service for Tania at Jantar Mantar tomorrow.
Protests by Northeast students in Delhi following Tania’s death also carried a strong tenor of “we are Indians, yet discriminated” although some others debated it. Some activists, like a student leader from Manipur, said the underlying message was against a different system of “institutional attitude”, and patriotism should not define such protests.
Proud of her son’s eclectic mindset, Marina said Tania followed his grandparents’ faith, Donyi-Polo. Donyi-Polo is the indigenous faith of many ethnic groups in Arunachal Pradesh.
Recalling his deeply entrenched values from a political family and his peers, Marina appeared to hold a deep faith that her son was born for a cause.
“Tania held a secret, told me he wanted to do something big. On the other hand, he was simple, even a little miserly, helping friends with his pocket money,” she recalled fondly. “Tania even used to tell his father, ‘Be like a man, you can drink apong (local brew) and even smoke it does not make you bad’,” said Marina. “But he had told his friends before dying, ‘humko na mummy ne peeta hai na papa ne, pehli baar jhagra kiya hai’,” she said.
Speaking on discrimination, Marina felt that India is one of the most racist countries and within it, Delhi is where discrimination is most common.
“I was also teased and had I objected strongly then, probably my son would have been alive — it is racial discrimination and it is a wrong perception of our Indian people,” she said. Some years ago, Marina and her friend were teased at a local market here for “looking like Chinese and speaking Hindi”. They threw utensils at the shopkeeper and scooted.
“Calcutta police were good and we were not teased there,” said Marina, smiling as her friend quipped: “Woh to communist hai na.”
On Delhi police, she suggested that even the intimidating khaki uniforms of the force should be changed.
“I told Soniaji and Rahulji that if I don’t get justice, I will create problems,” said an angry Marina. Tania’s mother said his case was about the entire Northeast.