No takers for anti-racial law

Police detain Northeastern students demanding a strong anti-racial law in the wake of the killing of Nido Taniam

Souzeina S Mushtaq Delhi 

More than 50 students who were protesting against the killing of the Arunachali student Nido Taniam were detained at Parliament street police station today. They were demanding strict action and note of the situation from the Parliamentarians. 

The students had started their protest around 10am at Jantar Mantar, where they had been gathering for the past five days. As they marched towards the Parliament Street police station, they were not allowed and were detained inside the police station. 

The students had been demanding a committee, on the lines of the Justice Verma committee that was set up after the December 16 gang rape, to look into Nido Taniam’s death at the hands of irate shopkeepers, and requesting the government to enact a strict anti-racial discrimination law. “Political parties are now accepting that this is a case of racial discrimination, but we are still not getting enough support from them. We will continue with our fight,” shouted one of the protesters. 

“We are not here for expressing our condolences; we are here for justice,” said one of the protesters inside the police station compound. The students also found the Delhi Police’s behavior as objectionable and hostile. “They were laughing at us when not creating hurdles.”

The students also termed the discrimination towards them as an “absolute form of human exploitation, which is imbibed deep down.” “We have internalized this racism. Nido was killed because he resisted.” 

Amid slogans of “Racism, down down”, students said they feel they have been relegated to “second class citizens” in India. “People do not consider us Indian citizens; they have reduced us to Indian subjects.” 

Talking to Hardnews on the sidelines of the protest, Yeshi Wangchu Kharma, Vice President, Arunachal Students Union Delhi (ASUD), said people need to open their minds and embrace the North East as a part of India. “They have become prisoners of prejudice. And that is why we are being treated like this,” he said. He also pointed to the fact that none of the people from other states joined them in their fight for justice. 

“When the Nirbhaya rape case happened, it was a movement. People from all walks of life joined it. But in Nido’s case, nothing happened. It is just the students from Northeast who are protesting,” Yeshi lamented. He also questioned the attitude of the people towards people from the Northeast. “People from Punjab are called Punjabis, but why can’t people from Arunachal Pradesh be called Arunachalis, or people from Manipur be called Manipuris? Calling us ‘Chinki’ is racist, and it hurts. If this keeps happening, the country will be weakened; nationalism of the states will grow and the integrity of India will be at stake,” he said. 

The students said they would continue with their protests until the government takes note of it. “This is the last working session of the Parliament before elections. We want the legislation to pass this law,” Yeshi added. 

The protests had started a day after an Arunachal Pradesh MLA's son Nido Taniam was allegedly beaten to death by some shopkeepers. A 19-year-old student, Taniam died on January 29, following the scuffle at Lajpat Nagar where he was teased over his hair and looks.