“Nobody will come as a saviour to help us,” said Alana Golmei, one of the founding members of the Northeast Support Centre and Helpline that attends to distress calls from people from the Northeastern States.
The support centre that functions from South Delhi’s Katwaria Sarai turns seven this year and has over the years dealt with several cases. That of a 19-year-old Manipuri girl who was raped and murdered in Munirka in 2009, a Delhi University student who was molested by a cab driver in 2010 and more recently, a 14-year-old girl from Manipur who was sexually assaulted by her landlord’s son also in Munirka.
“The incidents over the years are much the same. It is just that people have become far more aware and alert when previously they did not even bother to file a police complaint,” said Ms. Golmei. “There have been cases of sexual assault, racial attacks and discrimination that people have reported about through this helpline.”
On Monday, Ms. Golmei was busy collecting information about the latest attack in the Capital, of two boys from Manipur who were allegedly beaten up with sticks in Ambedkar Nagar landing one of them in a hospital bed.
As a core committee member of a group of people from the Northeast, she had just told reporters at a press conference that Northeastern women who were sexually assaulted have always been labelled as “morally loose” by police officers and there have been delays in filing FIRs after incidents.
Next to her was Pradyot Manikya Debbarrma, chairman of the Royal Tripura Foundation, who was critical of the “weak support” extended by parliamentarians from the Northeast. “There are 25 Lok Sabha MPs and 14 Rajya Sabha MPs including the Prime Minister who represent the Northeast. Yet, very few of them have come in support of our community especially over the last few weeks,” he said.Rejected
“We also reject the committee formed by the Government of India which was set up without consultation with any civil society groups and consists only of retired bureaucrats with no women member,” he added. Last week, the Union Government constituted a committee to look into the problems faced by people from the Northeast living in different parts of the country, especially in metropolitan cities, and suggest remedial measures.
Core committee members also pulled up the Delhi Government for not following up on the official committee that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had suggested that the people of the Northeast themselves form. “The committee to be formed by the Delhi Government whose onus has been put on us needs to be followed up sincerely by the Delhi Government,” one of their demands states.
Suggestions were also put forward to set up “mini-embassies” in State bhawans that have been set up in the Capital. “So far the bhawans have only either served food or provided shelter. There are no provisions to register grievances of people from the Northeast,” said one of the members. “So the student organisations here are filling the gap for this lack of support system. We mobilise ourselves for cultural and sports programmes. We are not organising ourselves for secession!”