March 20, 2017: Racist attack on North-eastern students is not a new thing in India where students are teased, beaten and even killed. In a recent event, a student of Christ University, Bangalore, had to bear the brunt firsthand by being beaten severely by the landlord over a trivial issue of water and later was asked to lick his shoe. The Police refused to take Higio’s full statement specially Hemant Kumar’s abusive comments, ‘you only deserved it because you are a dirty tribal from Northeast.’ Hemant also got anticipatory bail which compels the victim to lodge an F.I.R second time. This attack after media coverage creates a huge response from Northeast community from all over India.
On March 19, the Northeast Students of Banaras Hindu University along with their other supporters organized a peace protest at Assi Ghat, Varanasi in the demand for the punishment of Hemant Kumar. The peace protest brings to surface the identity crisis, the lack of safety of Northeasters who come to the ‘mainland’ for better education, treatment or employment.
Mekory Meora Dodum , a 2nd year M.A student from Arunachal Pradesh, talks about how racism slowly engulfing our understanding for each other and how the people from plain can hardly name the Seven Sisters and grow up thinking Northeastern people as foreigners. When most of the people from plain surprises to see NE people speak Hindi, some students from Arunachal Pradesh and Assam who are doing their B.A and M.A in Hindi speaks about their agony.
Pralay Boro, a student from Assam shares how they have to keep on clarifying their identity in their own country and how they spend life fearing the same fate of Higio.
They all demand justice for Higio Gungtey. Though various promises of safety were made by the Centre after Nido Tania’s death in 2014, the scenario remains the same.
The Act 153C and 509A which deals with the punishment of racial attack is still under process to enact fully. Vandana Jha, (Associate professor, Hindi dept) and several active members from ABVP like Ghanshyam Shahi and Alok Nath support the causes of the Northeastern Students.
The Protest march ended at Jain Ghat with the slogans for a United India for all its citizen where people no longer asks whether Mizoram is in India or tease NE people as ‘chinkis’ or insult them for being tribals. ‘The peace protest’, as Gyamar Ashna, an Arunachali student, said ‘is not for certain scattered events only, it states for the security of all Northeast people and an attempt to build a bridge between peoples’ misconception and lack of awareness. It’s to set a mission for Better India, One India.’
– By Babli Mallick