The front-page newspaper stories and telling pictures of thousands of panic-stricken people from the northeast fleeing Bangalore after widespread rumours of violence targeting them might have made the average reader uneasy. However, Assamese students in the Capital acknowledged that though they were worried about the situation in Bangalore, they were not interested in packing their bags. They genuinely believed that Delhi would never be like other cities only because “there are too many of us here”.
“I have been here for years now. I did my schooling here, went to college here in Delhi University and now I am doing my M. Phil here. I have never in all the years that I’ve spent in the Capital been threatened because of my race. I think Delhi will never be like the other cities. There are too many people from the northeast here for us to ever feel threatened,” said Rimon, an M. Phil student from Jawaharlal Nehru University.
College students in closed campuses like JNU admitted that they were completely secure inside the campus but that it was a different story on the Capital’s streets. “We have a forum for northeast students here and had a meeting this morning to discuss these issues and are planning a march on the campus in support of the victims of ethnic violence. This campus is very sensitive and nasty things do not happen here to us, but my friends living outside the campus have a very different story to tell,” said Meenakshi, a Ph.D. student in JNU.
She said her friends staying in rented accommodation and as paying guests had people knocking at their doors in the middle of the night, racial comments while walking the streets and other such nasty experiences.
Her sentiments were echoed by Pallavi, another Ph. D student from JNU who admitted that all the Assamese people she knew were usually on edge in the Capital because they had “heard of so many nasty incidents”.
But that Delhi could never be like other cities because of its cosmopolitan nature, in which most people were made up of migrants from other States.
However, there are still many who are genuinely apprehensive.
“Right now Delhi is calm, but I am afraid that the same thing that happened in Mumbai can happen here too. My friends have all left the city for the time being and will come back once everything gets settle down. We are all frightened,” said Seenam Sharda Devi, a civil services aspirant living in Ber Sarai.
“I am in Delhi for a while now but my family is in constant fear and after witnessing the scenario at Bangalore and Mumbai, they want me to come back till everything settles down,” said Triveni, a Delhi University student.