A day after the death of a teenage student from Arunachal Pradesh, who was beaten by shopkeepers of Lajpat Nagar market in the national capital, several youngsters from the Northeast who staged protests on Saturday for justice have now called it off after Delhi Police assured swift action in the case.
Speaking to reporters, one of the students, who was a part of the protests, said they did not intend to fight but were seeking justice for Nido Taniam. He said that those who come from northeastern states of the country respect others and expect the same in return.
The protests come after Taniam was allegedly assaulted as he protested against a shopkeeper’s taunts about his physical appearance. Friends of 19-year-old Nido Taniam last saw him alive at 6 am on Thursday after he had spent a sleepless night, agitated about the previous evening’s incident, and complaining of uneasiness and pain in the chest. The friends assumed he had drifted to sleep after that, but got worried around noon, when they took him to AIIMS. He was declared dead at the hospital. Friends and relatives said Nido, a B.Sc student at Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, had come to Delhi some days ago. Nido was the son of Nido Pavitra, a Congress MLA and parliamentary secretary in the health and family welfare department of the government of Arunachal Pradesh.
On Wednesday afternoon, Nido was in Lajpat Nagar market with a friend. They stopped at Rajasthan Paneer Bhandar in A block to ask for directions. The victim’s friends have alleged that in response, the shopkeeper passed a rude comment about his clothes and the colour of his hair, called him “chinki”, and laughed at him along with some other people at the shop. This allegedly provoked Nido to bang his fist on the shop counter, which shattered the glass and triggered a scuffle between him and the shopkeeper.
According to Nightham Apam, one of Nido’s friends, the shopkeeper and six other men threw chilli powder in Nido’s eyes and beat him. “Nido was beaten with a wooden stick. They also slapped him several times across his face. The shopkeeper called the PCR, and the local police too reached the spot. Both parties were taken to the police station, where police brokered a settlement, and made Nido and his friend shell out Rs 10,000 to pay for the damage at the shop,” Nightham said.
The matter, however, did not end here. According to Nightham, a few hours later, men from the shop cornered Nido at the end of a narrow road and beat him again. Police said Nido complained to them after the second incident, and both parties were taken to the police station again. They were made to submit written apologies before being let off.
Nido then went to the Green Park Extension home of a relative where he was staying. Friends and relatives who were present at the AIIMS mortuary on Friday afternoon alleged that he died after suffering internal injuries during the beating. “His friends have told me that he slept around 6 am after complaining of uneasiness. They advised him to go to the hospital but he refused, saying he would rather rest at home. When he did not wake up until noon, his friends got worried and took him to hospital where he was declared dead,” Nido’s uncle Apil said.
Apil said doctors at AIIMS had told him that “there was water in his lungs”. “We have filed a complaint saying this was murder. Nido was beaten but police made him pay money to the shopkeepers. Why was no case registered?” said Nightham. On Friday evening, police detained the two owners of the shop, Farhan and Akram, and recovered chilli powder and a stick from the shop. They also registered a case of murder at the Lajpat Nagar police station. “We are interrogating the suspects. The investigation is on,” the special commissioner of police (Law and Order) said.