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Racial slurs, discrimination - we face it all: Northeasterners
Tuesday July 22, 2014 7:56 PM, IANS

From being overcharged to racial abuse, people from the northeastern states have to fight it out in their daily life in the capital and with the killing of a Manipuri youth Monday, their grievances and anxieties have again come to the fore.

"Delhi is becoming unsafe for everyone, especially for people from the northeastern region. We are cheated everywhere, with local shopkeepers quoting increased prices just looking at us. Even autowallahs fleece us by overcharging and refusing to go by the meter rates," Taba Doni, who hails from Arunachal Pradesh, told IANS.

Doni, a student, added that he and his friends end up paying high rents "as compared to other people" living in the same building.

Agreed 27-year-old Swapan Bebbarma who attributed such "racial" attacks to their "different looks".

"We are attacked maybe because we look different. Cases of people from the northeast being attacked - either verbally or physically - are nothing new now,"
Bebbarma, who is from Tripura, told IANS.

More than 10,000 people from the northeast come to Delhi every year for education and jobs because of poor opportunities in the region.

A 29-year-old Manipuri BPO employee was beaten to death in south Delhi's Kotla Mubarakpur area early Monday by five youths. The shocking incident comes six months after a 19-year-old Arunachal Pradesh student, Nido Tania, died after being beaten with iron rods and sticks by some men after an altercation with a shopkeeper in a south Delhi market, not far from Kotla Mubarakpur.

Though these incidents were highlighted because of adequate media attention, there are many that go unreported, the members of the community feel.

Bebbarma added that the lack of proper education and employment opportunities in the northeastern region brings the young to the national capital.

"I have many such incidents to narrate where we have been targeted. Though such cases occur in other states as well, surprisingly it is higher in Delhi, which is
the national capital," Gary Thouthang, general secretary of student organisation of the Kuki tribe, told IANS.

"We possibly cannot report all the incidents. They come to notice only when one of us ends up in the hospital battling for life," the 28-year-old resident of north campus added.

According to the report by the North East Support Centre and Helpline (NESCH), there are more than 200,000 people, of whom around 50 percent are females, from the the northeastern states of India in the capital.

M.P. Bezbaruah, chairperson of the Bezbaruah Committee formed by the government after Tania's attack to suggest remedial measures, told IANS that "only police action and reforms cannot lower crime against the people from the northeast".

He further attributed such incidents to "mindsets of the people and the ideology they adopt against a certain community".

"There is a need for the government to make policies that prevents the culprits from getting away after committing the crime, which does not happen in many of the cases.

"A wide range of policies need to be improved so that crimes against people from the northeast, and equally from against other states, should reduce," Bezbaruah told IANS.

A student from Assam, Cheeranjib Daulaguphu, mentioned a few areas across the city where he says such incidents are more "rampant"

"Places like Munirka, Kotla Mubarakpur and also Lajpat Nagar (all in south Delhi) are the hub of such attacks," the resident of Saket told IANS.

Alana Golmei, founder of the NESCH, said that earlier women were asked to be "careful", but now, she said "even men are not safe".

"It has now become a security issue. Our police needs to undertake genuine investigations as it is the police and the judicial system who can help avert such
incidents by playing an important role," Golmei told IANS.

However, unlike popular opinion, people of the Delhi are sympathetic to the cause.

"I would not call Delhi unsafe per say, but there are certain social elements which don't understand the confluence of cultures that takes place in a
metropolis," communication consultant Bhaskar Pant told IANS.

Suggesting measures, advocate Sandeep Mahapatra said that there is an "urgent need" to probe the situation and rectify it.

"Unfortunately, there is some (kind of) disconnect with northeastern people. There is an urgent need to rectify the situation. Media needs to report and follow up the cases, thus being an important medium to bring in some sensitisation," Mahapatra told IANS.

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