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Bureaucrats feel there’s no India beyond Kolkata
Published on 28 Jun. 2009 12:21 AM IST
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Even as Mizoram chief minister Lalthanhawla kicked up a racism row in Singapore on Thursday, many in the North-East believe there was nothing wrong in what he said. Students, in particular, feel Lalthanhawla has given “a bold statement” and highlighted the “ground reality.” Speaking at an international conference on water at Singapore on Thursday, Lalthanhawla reportedly said he was a victim of racism in India. “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 the North-East is also a part of India. I told them that I am an Indian like you,” he had said. AASU president Shankar Prasad Rai on Friday said, “Central bureaucrats and politicians usually feel there’s no India beyond Kolkata. There are already enough instances of molestation of North-East girls in Delhi and other parts of the country. Lalthanhawla was right in what he said,” he said. According to a website report of the Times of India on Saturday, the Northeast Students’ Organisation (NESO) also believes people from the region are subjected to racism in most metropolitan cities of the country. “India doesn’t want us, they only want our land. Even a national daily had once scoffed at PA Sangma’s look,” vice-chairman of NESO Lalmuanpuia Punte said in Aizawl. Pallabi Buragohain, an Assamese student pursuing her studies in Delhi said, “A number of people are criticizing the attack on Indian students in Australia. But N-E people receive almost the same treatment in Delhi just because they look different.” In Manipur too, social activists and general public supported Lalthanhawla’s comment. “Lalthanhawla has been bold enough to highlight the true feelings buried deep in the hearts of our people,” said Sobita Mangsatabam, a social activist in Imphal. “On all my visits New Delhi, Chennai and other cities beyond the North-East people have always asked me if I were from Nepal or any other country. They refuse to respect me as a fellow citizen even after knowing that I’m from Manipur,” she added. Achinpou Gangmei, a Naga social worker feels the Mizoram CM’s comments have virtually taught a lesson to those people living in Hindi heartland. “The unwanted treatment given by our own countrymen to us is more or less racist. The Hindi heartland people should first change their mindset about us before blaming Australians,” Gangmei said. The murder, rape, molestation and manhandling of N-E girls in Delhi and other places are examples of such undesired outlook, he added. “What is the meaning of national integration when the North-East is looked down upon and people here treated as third class citizens,” he said. However, there are few who think Lalthanhawla has sent the wrong signal by raking up the issue at Singapore. “It is a fact that people in other parts of the country, especially New Delhi, tend to look at us with a sense of amusement and sometimes even with contempt. But I do not think it was proper of the Mizoram CM to voice his displeasure on an international platform. This has tarnished the image of the country,” said Rommel Lyngdoh. He is pursuing higher education in New Delhi and is currently in Shillong for his summer vacations. “In a vast country like ours, there are bound to be differences of opinion. No one can deny social evils such as casteism, communalism and racism do exist in India,” said Runa Sen, a housewife in Shillong.

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