Mainstream, VOL LII, No 7, February 8, 2014
Outrage over a Death in the Capital
Monday 10 February 2014, by
In the midst of repeated disruptions that have made transaction of business in both the Houses impossible during the ongoing extended winter session of Parliament, there has been one silver-lining. The fact that all sections cutting across party barriers rose as one man to unequivocally condemn the tragic death of a 19-year-old student from Arunachal Pradesh, Nido Taniam, in the national Capital testified to the MPs’ resolve to protect the North-Eastern inhabitants in the Capital currently being subjected to violence due to racial bias.
Of late the polity has undergone considerable fragmentation on political lines. It is also fast getting polarised along varied sectarian identities. The recent rise of communal sentiments springing from religious extremism in particular threatens the fabric of our long-cherished secular democracy. The stand-off in Delhi between the incumbent AAP dispensation and the UPA Government at the Centre over the Jan Lokpal Bill mooted by the former is yet another reflection of the prevailing state of affairs. Against such a backdrop the Parliament Members’ denunciation of the racial attack on the young student from the North-East was doubtless noteworthy. This established that with all their limitations and lack of vision our MPs do realise the dangerous consequences of the persistence of racial prejudices against our North-East brethren in the ‘Indian heartland’. But would they have reacted in the way they did had our brothers and sisters from the North-East not expressed their outrage on the streets of Delhi?
What is most shocking and unfortunate is the frequency with which such racial acts are being committed presently in the country’s Capital city. Just four days before the attack on the Arunachal student on January 29, goons had assaulted two Manipuri girls in Delhi; and they were being continually harassed by the former for quite some time. It was all the more shameful that the police adopted the role of silent onlookers even when specific complaints were lodged. And mind you, these are not stray or isolated cases.
True, from Rahul Gandhi to Arvind Kejriwal and also Narendra Modi—leading politicians of all hues have sympathised with the people of the North-East in the light of Nido Taniam’s demise. Even Congress President Sonia Gandhi, in a letter to Taniam’s father, Congress MLA Nido Pavitra, acknowledged that such occurrences were a blot on our society as a whole and promised to bring the guilty to book. However, all these are not enough. Words must be matched by deeds. Stringent measures are essential to adequently punish the perpetrators of such crimes. But equally important are steps to change the mindset of the local public. Our multicultural country is fast losing its character and tradition. Alienation of our North-Eastern brethren must be removed at all costs in the interest of our composite nationhood.
February 7 S.C.