It’s time to speak up and put a stop to discrimination against the Northeastern community.
This was the message echoed by over a hundred people in the winding lanes of Munirka village in south Delhi on Friday.
Over 25 women’s groups and civil rights organisations organised a silent candlelight march through the bylanes of the village. The area has one of the highest concentrations of people from Northeastern states.
The protest was sparked by the sexual assault and murder of Ramchanphy Hongray (19), a Munirka resident from Nagaland, by neighbour Pushpan Kumar Sinha (30), a PhD scholar at IIT Delhi, last Saturday.
“We have to realise is not an isolated case of sexual assault and murder,” said Amrita Nandy of SANGAT (South Asian Network of Gender Activists and Trainers). “This is a part of a much larger picture of discrimination against the Northeastern community in general.”
Union home minister P. Chidambaram also came out in support of Northeastern people.
“Northeastern citizens are as much Indian as you and I. They can come to Delhi, live in Delhi, work in Delhi, study in Delhi and they are entitled to equal respect and equal rights,” he told the media in the wake of recent attacks on the community in the Capital.
The protestors were accompanied by many students and staff from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia. They carried placards and banners and handed out leaflets to residents.
“It’s not just girls who are subjected to discrimination,” said Binalakshmi Nepram, secretary-general of the Control Arms Foundation of India.
“Last week, an Assamese boy was thrown off his second-floor flat by his landlord’s son. The incident went unreported.” Nepram felt the community was stereotyped as “loose and immoral” because of their lifestyle and distinctive appearance. “We’ve had enough!”
According to a study conducted by the North East Support Centre & Helpline, 86 per cent of Northeast Indian communities living in Delhi face racial discrimination. As many as 41 per cent of cases handled by the Centre dealt with sexual abuse.