An ongoing profiling of north Indian migrant workers and students by the Tamil Nadu Police has sparked off a controversy, with activists calling it “racial” and demanding an immediate halt.
Civil rights activists, academicians and trade union leaders called it an assault on citizens’ right to live and work anywhere in the country. They held a protest here on Friday.
The profiling — a count of migrant workers and collection of information about north Indian students — gained momentum after a spurt in crimes, such as bank robberies and heists at jewellery stores.
Geeta Ramaseshan, an advocate who fights human rights cases in the Madras high court, said north Indians were ending up as victims of a brewing hate campaign in the state. She cited the February 27 lynching of a mentally challenged person from Andhra Pradesh in south Chennai as an example. The victim was mistaken for a north Indian burglar. Police allegedly let the attackers go free.
The lynching came four days after five persons from Bihar and West Bengal — suspects in two bank robberies — were shot dead by police in the same area.
AS Soundararajan, a leader of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, said one person from Bihar died after being attacked by iron rods in Coimbatore.
Chennai Police commissioner JK Tripathy maintained that only criminals were being profiled and there was no race angle to it. “We have also asked educational institutions to keep a database of students, in case of a need and for their future employers. For tenants, we have asked landlords to collect details,” Tripathy said.
The activists said they had no objection to the registration but the police should do it.