The Mizoram Assembly on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution condemning racist attacks on people from the North East and offered its condolences to victims’ families. The resolution also expressed hope that such racist attacks do not happen in future.
Mizo National front MLA Lalruatkima, who moved the resolution, made an emphatic plea for an unanimous adoption, saying in his speech, “India is a country populated by various races — Aryans, Dravidians and Mongoloid. Sometimes there is conflict because of our different religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds.
“But even 67 years after Independence, people from the North East have been discriminated against because of the color of our skin, the build of our bodies and even the slant of our eyes. These have even resulted in deaths recently, and we in the North East are deeply hurt by these incidents. North East people have to sometimes work and study outside the region, and there we are discriminated against and even mocked because of our personalities and the kind of food we eat,” he said.
His fellow opposition MLA, Dr K Beichhua, seconded the resolution and said, “This is the time for us to fight for an anti-racism law because if we do not, our children and grandchildren will never forgive us for letting this historic moment slip by.”
Dr Beichhua narrated a story about a female friend who once completed her MBBS in Lucknow, saying, “She often tells me about her daily ordeal over five years as she commuted on a scooter to and from her residence to her college. She says, ‘I sometimes feel no more than an animal because as I ride, bystanders would throw all kinds of things, especially food, at me, even peels of fruits’.
“If these racist actions do not stop, how can we as parents with our children in cities in the mainland not always be filled with worry for their safety?” he asked.
Chalrosanga, a Congress MLA from one of Aizawl’s wealthiest families, also chipped in and said, “I studied in Delhi, and many times I was called a ‘chinky’, which obviously hurt,” before concluding in a lighter vein, “The only upside was that most people used to think all NE people know kung-fu so we hardly got ragged.”
Several Cabinet Ministers put their weight behind the opposition member’s resolution, with Home Minister R Lalzirliana saying, “The trouble is that as we are flowing into the mainstream, which is now irreversible, there are some who seem to object and create obstacles to this.
“If we can make some slight changes to this resolution, I think we should unanimously adopt it,” R Lalzirliana said, referring to several MLA’s contention that the resolution’s call for a strong anti-racism law might not be that effective given the various laws against violence in general already in place.
His colleague, Law Minister Lalsawta, told the house, “I think all of us might have experienced racial discrimination at one point or other in our lives. There is no denying racism still exists. But I wonder how effective it would be if we drafted a law.”
Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, who has in the past spoken out several times against racism, also took part in the discussion and said, “Sometimes I tell fellow politicians from other parts of the country they are not fit to call themselves national leaders because they would not be able to point out certain states if we gave them a blank map of the country. In this country, most officials and politicians do not accept there are three different races in India. This is unfortunate.
“We welcome this resolution,” the five-time CM said, “We need this to slap them awake from their slumber. Maybe we should even name Nido Tania and victims of other racist attacks. We should condemn racism in more certain terms. There is racism not only in politics, but in sports as well, and many NE athletes who are eligible are sometimes dropped from training camps.”
After a one-and-half-hour discussion, Speaker Hiphei called for a recess and asked MLAs from different parties to amend Lalruatkima’s original resolution that calls for an anti-racism law.
The final resolution, adopted after the recess, declared: “The House solemnly regrets the discrimination and violence against people from the North Eastern region in various parts of the country which has resulted in loss of some innocent lives in some cases and offers condolences to the aggrieved families. The House desires that henceforth such discrimination and violence against people from the region will not take place.”