Four days after protests over the death of Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Taniam erupted in the capital, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday joined protesters at Jantar Mantar and said the guilty in the case should “be hanged or given the strictest punishment”.
Addressing the gathering, Kejriwal said, “We have to come together to ensure that the guilty are hanged, to ensure that the strictest punishment is given to them.”
Accompanied by Education Minister Manish Sisodia, Kejriwal announced a few measures that the Delhi government planned to take in light of the incident — inclusion of chapters on Northeast in school textbooks and formation of a committee to look into cases of racial discrimination.
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“Why don’t you form a team? We will notify that committee on behalf of the Delhi government. You give us suggestions, we will implement them,” Kejriwal said.
As a step to sensitise people on issues of racial discrimination, Sisodia said, “From the next session, schools books in Delhi will carry chapters on the history and culture of northeastern states. They will not be restricted to facts and figures.”
Taking a dig at politicians who had visited the protest venue — Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had joined the protest on Monday — Kejriwal said, “A lot of politicians have come here and promised to do things. But this is not enough. Justice has to be delivered in this case. If it does not happen this time, it will never happen. I have never considered myself as chief minister. I am a common man. We need to work together. We will do, whatever we can do to fight such discrimination,” Kejriwal said.
The Delhi CM also apologised for the delay in joining the protesters. “I apologise for coming here on the fourth day. I came to know about the protest through media reports. The FIR in the case was registered two days late. We were not approached by any of you. It was after hearing the news on TV that we ordered a magisterial inquiry into the case.”
Stating that questions had been raised about the relevance of the magisterial inquiry when a police inquiry was under way, the CM said, “The Delhi Police is not an independent party in this case. The magisterial inquiry will be over in 3-4 weeks. If police were the only people conducting an inquiry, the case would have been swept under the carpet. I am happy that the High Court has taken a suo motu cognisance of the case.”
Taking a dig at the CM for the delay in joining the protest, Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder, Manipuri Women Gun Survivors Network, said, “We are glad that the chief minister is here but you came three days late.”
On the announcements made by Kejriwal, Nepram said, “These are assurances. We are not buying them on face value. We are clear about our step ahead. This is not a one-day show. We will continue our protests till the guilty are punished, not just in Nido’s case but in a series of other such cases. We will push our demands. Day after tomorrow, we will march from Jantar Mantar to Parliament, demanding an anti-racial law. The issue of rising xenophobia in the country needs to be addressed urgently. We are fed up of being treated as second-class citizens.”