Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday put forth some pointed questions to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde about the “delay” in police action relating to the death of Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Taniam after being allegedly beaten by some shopkeepers in Lajpat Nagar.
Shinde was called on Thursday morning to a meeting Gandhi held with MPs from North East at his residence in the backdrop of outrage over the death of 19-year-old Taniam.
At the meeting, the MPs also made a strong pitch for an anti-racism law in the country as they complained that students and residents from North Eastern states have to frequently face racial slurs and discrimination not only in the national capital but in other states of the country as well.
Agreeing with the complaints of the MPs about racial discrimination with North Eastern people, Gandhi also talked about discrimination with people from other states as well in some places and appeared to favour a strong framework to prevent such things, sources said.
Gandhi wanted to know how the police acted in the matter and Shinde made a detailed briefing about the circumstances surrounding the “delay” in police action in registering the FIR and arresting the persons in connection with the incident, the sources said.
In the meeting, Shinde is learnt to have explained to Gandhi that the locational differences of places under which the scuffle took place, the boy stayed at night and he was admitted in the hospital fell under the jurisdiction of different police stations and that took some time, the sources said.
As Gandhi sought the views of the MPs to take corrective measures, they complained the police are many times not sensitive to complaints of NE people about racial harassment and demanded more teeth to existing 24×7 helpline for North Eastern people.
They said the helpline should be given more manpower and officers so that they can directy contact the Bhavans (State Government Houses) of North Eastern states.
It was also felt that states should also be proactive and have one police officer deployed in Bhavans to coordinate with Delhi police in such matters.
A leader, who attended the meeting, said Gandhi’s focus was on putting some system and mechanism in place under which quick deterrent action could taken to prevent unpleasant situations and check their recurrence.
The meeting was attended Lok Sabha MP from Arunachal Pradesh Ninong A Erring, Vincent H Pala from Meghalaya, R L Ruala from Mizoram, Rishang Keishang, Thokchom Meinya and Thangso Baite from Manipur.
From Assam, those who attended the meeting included Pankaj Bora, N Faruque, Santiuse Kujur, B K Handique, Biren Singh Ingti, Paban Singh Ghatowar, Rani Nara, Dip Gogoi, Ismail Hussain and Lalit Kumar Suklavaidhya.
In the meeting, Gandhi also discussed with Shinde and the MPs about the special six-member committee set up by the Home Ministry to look into various concerns of persons from the North Region and take remedial action.
Talking to reporters, AICC general secretary in-charge for North Eastern states Luizinho Faleiro, who led the delegation to Gandhi, said the Congress Vice President wanted not only to ensure justice in the case of Taniam but also address the issue of discrimination of people from the Northeast in the long run.
Faleiro said the Home Ministry has set up of a six-member committee headed by retired IAS officer M B Bezbaruah, which will submit a report within two months after examining the causes behind the attacks/violence and discrimination against the people from the Northeast.
He said Gandhi was not only keen for measures to solve the Taniam case but also the “hostile discrimination” against the people of North Eastern region, which is happening in Delhi and other states.
“We discussed with Gandhi how to ensure that such incidents do not happen again and there must be some deterrent action so that innocent persons do not face brutal inhuman attacks,” he said.