Noting that the newly formed cell of the Delhi Police to tackle issues relating to persons from the Northeast was a “dilution” of the orders of the court, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed police to create a special unit “on the lines of the Crimes Against Women Cell”.
The court of Acting Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul also observed that the lack of sensitisation among police and people of Delhi was responsible for the misbehaviour and “racial profiling” of persons “who look even slightly different”.
Expressing its dissatisfaction with the steps taken to curb the problem of discrimination, the court commented that the issue was “getting out of hand”.
“You must be aware of the prejudiced behaviour towards anyone who comes from outside Delhi or looks even slightly different… Had your police been sensitised, the situation would not have escalated this much,” the court said.
“We need to change the mindset of people, there are two ways to do that. Education, which takes time, and the second is fear — fear of being prosecuted and going to jail. If police immediately take action then the fear will be created,” the court said.
The court was on Wednesday hearing arguments in the suo motu case taken up after the death of Nido Taniam, a student from Arunachal Pradesh, in the capital last month.
The court had earlier issued extensive orders to various agencies to take steps to curb the problem of discrimination and crimes against people from the Northeast.
Police on Wednesday also informed the court that a helpline (1093) had been made operational for people from the Northeast to seek help, and 47 calls had been received on the number between February 13 and March 4. Police also said 14 FIRs had been registered on the basis of the complaints. The court has now sought a detailed action-taken report explaining what has been done about the complaints filed through the helpline.
“We want certain visible indicators to people that such behaviour will not be tolerated, whether it is towards people from the Northeast or people from anywhere. We would not be worthy of calling ourselves a constitutional democracy if we allow this,” the court said.
To ensure sensitisation of the police force, the court has also ordered the police commissioner to direct all DCPs to sensitise police personnel about problems faced by the people from the Northeast.
“There are 83,000 police officers, each has to be told that you cannot let crime go by. Incidents like these are racial profiling,” the court said.
The DLSA informed the court that it had conducted a “mohalla meeting” at Munirka, where many people from the Northeast reside, to encourage participation in the residents’ welfare associations. The court noted that such interactions were possible only where there was a concentration of a particular population.
“We don’t want to encourage ghettoisation. People should not feel that they will be safe only if they live in certain areas where there are a large number of people from the Northeast,” the court said.
The court also noted that the Home Ministry had started consultations with the governments of the eight Northeast states to send police personnel to Delhi on a deputation basis.