URGENT APPEAL: Condemn racial attacks against persons hailing from Northeast India

 

From Dr. MALEM NINGTHOUJA

The racial attacks on peoples hailing from Northeast in New Delhi and other parts of “mainland” India have been an alarming and longstanding concern… There has been no consistent and systematic policy to tackle the pattern of racial attacks, especially in New Delhi, capital of India.

RECENT INCIDENTS:

  1. Assault on Mr. Telheiba Laishram, s/o L. Bidhanchandra of Wangjing Sorokhaibam, on 25 November 2013 at Kishangarh, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.

  1. Assault on Miss Tharmila Jajo, Miss Chonmila, Mr Lungshim Shaiza and Mr. Phungreingam Jajo, all residents of Ukhrul District, Manipur, on 25 January 2014, at Kotla Mubarakpur, New Delhi
  1. Assault and murder of Mr. Nido Tania, s/o Nido Pavitra of Arunachal Pradesh on 29 January 2014 at Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi
  1. Rape and assault of a 14 year old girl (name withheld) from Manipur on 8th February 2014 at Munirka, South Delhi.
  1. Assault and robbing of Mr. N. Ginkhansuan, 24, and his brother N. Vunghsuan Mung, 26, from Churachandpur, Manipur on 9th February 2014 at Maidangiri area in South Delhi.
  1. Stabbing and robbing of Mr. Khusiangen from Manipur on 11th February 2014 at Ambedkar Nagar, New Delhi.
  1. Injury and detention of several students on 14th February 2014 by the police in a bid to suppress demonstration and the attempt to storm the parliament demanding anti-racial law in India.

PLACE OF INCIDENT: New Delhi, capital of India

APPEAL ISSUED BY:

Manipuri Students Federation (MSF)
Manipur Students’ Association Delhi (MSAD)
Life Watch Manipur (LWM)
Human Rights Initiative (HRI)
European Manipuri Association (EMA)
Committee on Human Rights (COHR)
Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM)
Campaign for Peace and Democracy (Manipur)

EVENT DESCRIPTION:

  1. On 25th November 2013 Mr. Telheiba Laishram was having sun bath on the terrace of his rented room at 63/9, Kishangarh, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. One Bhramprakash, an Indian neighbour told him not to stand on the terrace and spoke something that Telheiba could not understand. All of a sudden, Mr. Bhramprakash approached from behind with an aluminium rod and began thrashing him. Telheiba’s left hand was broken and there were multiple injuries on several parts of the body. Telheiba was admitted unconscious at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and went through medical treatment. An FIR was not lodged to the police as he was threatened by the neighbourhoods to not to do so.
  1. On 25th January 2014, at around 9 pm Miss Chonmila from Ukhrul District, Manipur currently staying at New Delhi had gone to a shop managed by Tharmila in Kotla Mubarakpur area of New Delhi to buy some Manipuri herbs. On spotting them, a group of Indian men first hurled racial abuses at them. When they didn’t react, one of them tied the leash of his pet dog to Chonmila’s boots. She got so scared that she started kicking the dog away to shoo it away. First, the men were just doubling up in laughter. But when they saw the woman trying kicking the dog, they suddenly started beating her on the charge of ill-treating the animal. When Tharmila intervened, two men dragged her out by the hair, virtually pulling her over the counter and thrashed her as well. There were many Indian shops in the same lane but none of the shopkeepers came out to help. Mr Lungshim Shaiza (27) was badly beaten up to the extent of fracturing two fingers on the left hand as he tried to stop the men from beating the women. Mr Phungreingam Jajo (22), was also beaten up and his mobile phone and wallet were snatched away.
  1. On 29th January 2014, Mr. Nido Tania (20), a student from Arunachal Pradesh was searching a residential address in Lajpat Nagar when a group of Indians commented on his hair colour. It was followed by an argument and scuffle. The Indians beat him with rods and sticks. The police came and took away Tania away from the spot, forced him to pay Rs. 10,000 to bear the cost of the glass pane that was broken during the scuffle and dropped him back on the same route after some time. Then Tania was again beaten up by the same group. Tania returned to his room with injuries and he was found death in his room in the next morning.
  1. On 8th February 2014, a 14-year-old girl from Manipur (name withheld) was dragged through the bustling streets of Munirka in South Delhi by the landlord’s son, Mr. Ashish alias Vicky. The incident happened while the girl was going out to buy some household items. The victim was forcibly grabbed in front of a pharmacy near HYGEA Hospital (popularly known as Daya Hospital) and took to a vacant room nearby where she was raped. Vicky was allegedly assisted by some others who closed down the shutter from outside. The girl not only suffered injuries to her private parts but she also sustained injuries on the face (cheeks and chin). The matter has been reported to the police.
  1. On 9th February 2014, Mr N. Ginkhansuan, 24, and his brother N. Vunghsuan Mung, 26, hailing from Manipur were mercilessly attacked by a group of men at Ambedkar Nagar in Delhi around 8.30pm. They were first subjected to racist taunts at a cigarette shop while they were returning from the Madangiri Market, before being beaten up with sticks.
  1. On 11th February 2014, a 20-year-old Manipuri student Mr. Khusiangen was stabbed and robbed at Saket area in South Delhi. The incident took place when the youth’s cell phone was snatched by the assailants, and was attacked when he tried to resist the robbery bid. The police first registered an FIR on robbery but refused to lodge FIR for attempt to murder.
  1. Integral to the series of protests, on 14th February 2014, hundreds of students staged a demonstration at the Parliament Street and attempted to storm the parliament demanding anti-racism law in India. The police resorted to indiscriminate baton charge leading to the injury of about forty students (some were hospitalised) and arrest of several others.

STATE RESPONSE:

  1. The Government of India continue to deny that there has been practising of racism and institutionalised racial discrimination in India.
  1. The Delhi Police initially refused to file an FIR into the case of rape of the minor from Manipur. Later they filed an FIR after much pressure. In the case of stabbing of Mr. Khusiangen, the police also refused to file complaint under appropriate section such as “attempt to murder”. The police filed an FIR under robbery and not for ‘stabbing’, which was an attempt to take Mr. Khusiangen’s life. Mr. Nido Tania’s life could have been saved had the police intervened to diffuse the tension created after the racial slur and thrashing. The inaction of the Delhi Police and their refusal to file complaints under appropriate sections of the Indian laws is a clear indication of violation of human rights. It reflects institutionalisation racism and encourages racist attacks on the people from Northeast India.
  1. A Special Committee was instituted by the Home Ministry of the Government of India on 6 February 2014 with a mandate to examine various kinds of concerns, including those of security and the causes behind the violence and discrimination against the people from North East. Mr. MP Bezbaruah, a retired IAS will chair the Committee. However, the appointment of the special committee has also been widely condemned from different sections for its exclusivity in the composition and the lack of consultation with civil societies, women’s groups and human rights bodies from India’s North East region.
  1. The Government ordered to proceed an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the murder of Mr. Nido Tania on 11 February 2014.
  1. On 11th February, the Delhi High Court had asked the Home Ministry to consider changing the existing SC/ST Act or introducing a new law to allow provisions for deterrence against alleged “racial attacks” on people from Northeast states. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Public Interest Litigation on 14th February 20214 concerning the recent attacks on people from the North East. The PIL, filed by a bunch of lawyers, seeks pan-India guidelines to prevent attacks and discrimination based on racial profiling and to set up of a special investigation team to look into the series of attacks on the people from the Northeast.

Community Responses:

There has been massive outcry against the series of racist attacks on the people hailing from Northeast region especially sparked off by the murder of Mr. Nido Tania. Till date series of protests had been carried out in Delhi, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and elsewhere. The protest demanded justice to the victims of racial assaults and enactment of anti-racial law in India to address the plight of the Northeast peoples.

RACIAL ATTACKS AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

The recent incidents of racial attacks on people hailing from the Northeast violated rights concerning; (a) right of all persons against any forms of racial discrimination, (b) rights against any forms of discrimination against women, (c) rights of the child, (d) right to life, (e) right to justice remedy, (f) indigenous peoples rights, etc. It also constitute serious violation of the several international laws and instruments such as; (a) International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, (b) UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination against Women, (c) UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007 and (d) Convention on the Rights of the Child.

BACKGROUND: RACIAL ATTACKS AND DILEMNA OF PEOPLE FROM INDIA’S NE

The racial attacks on peoples hailing from Northeast in New Delhi and other parts of “mainland” India have been an alarming and longstanding concern. The poignant memory of the murder of Mr. Loitam Richard from Manipur in Bangalore and the controversial suicide of Miss. Dana Sangma from Meghalaya in New Delhi in 2012 is still fresh and their families are yet to achieve justice. Whenever a racial attack had occurred, the government merely feigned a temporary measure to diffuse tension of the mounting public pressures by the aggrieved communities and progressive organizations. There has been no consistent and systematic policy to tackle the pattern of racial attacks, especially in New Delhi, capital of India.

The racial attacks and discrimination targeting the people of North East India can be attributed to the perplexing historical, political, social and cultural context. Historically, the Northeast ((Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh), was not part of India till 1940s. They are considered to be racially different from the ‘mainstream’ Indians in physical appearances, social outlook, language, culture, food habit, etc. Against this backdrop the feeling of annexation by India has been persistent to many who wish to establish Independent country. At the same time the ‘mainstream’ Indians suspected the Northeast peoples about their ‘national’ loyalty. Based on this suspicion and racial prejudice the Indian State indulged in militarisation to suppress all forms of self-determination movement. Massive subjection and suppression are carried out under the provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (that allows killing anyone on the ground of mere suspicion) and other repressive laws. This process of militarisation not only suspended the “rights to life’ but also had serious repercussion on the economic livelihood of the many.

Economically, due to the neo-liberal policy of the Indian State the Northeast remains underdeveloped and dependent on imports. Over the decades corporatisation of land and resources by the multi-national companies and exploitative mega projects such as mega dam constructions, Lower Subansiri HEP Project, Teesta III, Tipaimukh HEP Project, mining, oil and natural gas exploration and drilling had exacerbated the scale of displacement, marginalization and impoverishment. On the other hand there has been utmost neglect of agriculture, industrial growth, educational infrastructure, health facilitate and employment opportunities.

Due to neo-liberal constrains in the North east (militarisation and underdevelopment) many are forced to migrate as students, employees, job seekers, etc. in the Indian metropolitan cities. Most of them lived in overcrowded colonies in rented rooms. It is in these colonies, streets, markets, and in certain institutions that they encountered racist discriminations and extra economic burdens imposed by the Indian landlords, shopkeepers, etc. and also discrimination by the law enforcing police. It is worth mentioning that although discriminations based on caste, class and religion have been order of the day among the Indians; when it comes to the Northeast peoples the Indian social discrimination is mixed up with racism. Against this backdrop most of the victims of racial discrimination could not pursue long standing legal fight due to vulnerability and inferior conditions.

DEMANDS:

Manipuri Students Federation (MSF), Manipur Students’ Association Delhi (MSAD), Life Watch Manipur (LWM), Human Rights Initiative (HRI), European Manipuri Association (EMA), Committee on Human Rights (COHR), Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM) and Campaign for Peace and Democracy (Manipur) would like to urge upon the Government of India to undertake the following initiatives:

  1. Urgent free and fair investigation of all cases of racial attacks on persons hailing from Northeast and award the punishment all those involved in the crime.
  1. Ensure adequate protection of the migrant students, workers / employees, tourists, medical patients, and others hailing from the Northeast residing in the Indian metropolitan cities.
  1. Full implementation of the provisions of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN Convention on all forms Elimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and rectify its two protocols, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007.
  1. Enact and implement anti-racism law in India.
  1. Adopt a policy to address the political and economic causes of the emigration of indigenous peoples from the Northeast and the economic, social and cultural causes of racial attacks.
  1. Repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958.
  1. Resolve politically the ongoing armed conflict in the Northeast with due recognition of the inherent human rights of all indigenous peoples.
  1. End all forms of destructive and unsustainable development projects in the Northeast, which have destroyed (or likely to destroy) the livelihood and survival sources of Indigenous communities.

Please write to the Following Officials of the Government of India:

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minster, Government of India
Room No. 148 B, South block, New Delhi.
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 230116857; 23015603
Email: manmohan@sansad.nic.in

Chairperson, National HumanRights Commission
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi 110001 INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 2338 4863
E-mail: chairnhrc@nic.in

The Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India,
Tilak Marg, New Delhi-110 001 (India)
FAX: +91 11 23381508
Email: e-mail at: supremecourt@nic.in

Ms. Shelja Kumari
Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
Government of India, Shastri Bhawan, Dr Rajendra Prasad Road
New Delhi – 110 001 INDIA
Fax + 91 11 23384918
E-mail: min-sje@sb.nic.in

Mr. Okram Ibobi Singh
Chief Minister of Manipur
New Secretariat Building
Bapupara, Imphal, Manipur
INDIA Fax + 91 385 2451398
E-mail: cmmani@hub.nic.in

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