At a time when racial attacks against Indian students in Australia have attracted comments from the top leadership in both countries, Mizoram Chief Minister Pu Lalthanhawla on Thursday said he too was a victim of racism - but in India.
Speaking at a conference on water at the Singapore International Water Week, the chief minister said, "In India, people ask me if I am an Indian."
"When I go south, people ask me such questions. They ask me if I am from Nepal or elsewhere. They forget that the northeast is part of India. I have told many that see, I am an Indian like you," Lalthanhawla said.
"I am a victim of racism," he said. Indians consist of three races - "Dravidians, Aryans and we in the northeast," Lalthanhawla said.
Though many northeastern students complain of such discrimination in places like New Delhi, a state chief minister speaking in an international podium about an issue unrelated to the subject concerned was not liked by other Indian delegates present.
"This is unfair. We Indians are always divided and this is visible in a water event too. Many Australians must be feeling happy here," said an Indian delegate requesting anonymity.
In the past one month at least 16 Indian students in Australia have faced racial attacks. The latest was a Hyderabad student, Mir Kazim Ali Khan, studying at Victoria Institute of Technology (VIT), who was attacked by two unidentified men near a railway station in eastern suburb of Melbourne.
Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called the attacks on Indian students "appalling".