With its haphazard layout, dingy alleys and matchbox houses, south Delhi’s Humayunpur village, at first glance, appears to be like any other village in the capital. A walk through the area, however, reveals one characteristic unique to the village — its inhabitants come from all parts of India.
Once a predominantly Jat village, Humayunpur is today home to people from all over the country. Punjabis, Biharis, Bengalis and Haryanvis, all of them live here, in houses next to each other, and retain their own dialects and cultures.
But it is the people from northeastern states who make their presence felt. They wander around the village dressed in T-shirts and shorts, bargain with vegetable sellers, and often take refuge from the heat in the many restaurants that have sprung up, offering familiar Khasi, Manipuri or Naga food.
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Older residents say that until the late 1980s, the village used to be dotted with farmland. Its culture and composition have been shaped by periods of intensive change, they say.
“This place was just one field after another… this development has taken place in the last 30 years,” says Mustafa Kamal, a local resident.
Most members of the sizeable northeastern community say the village’s convenient location, low rent and safety are the factors that have most influenced their decision to reside in Humayunpur. Another reason they choose to stay here is because — as 28-year-old Asfa puts it — discrimination exists but it is rare.
“People from the northeast are discriminated against everywhere, and it is not like that doesn’t happen at all here, but it is comparatively rare,” said Asfa, who moved to Delhi from Assam 10 years ago.