‘We have become immune to racist comments’

Those from the North-East living in Delhi said though Nido Tanian’s death was tragic, the jibes that he faced were nothing new.

“In Delhi, you are what you look like and I say this after living in other cities away from my hometown. When I was in Chennai, the discrimination and prejudice was there, but nothing so overt,” said Gideon Lepcha, a student at the Faculty of Management Studies.

“My friends in the city studying in different colleges have been ostracised and called ‘chinkis’ more times than they can remember,” Mr. Lepcha said.

However, his classmate, Hmantha Wangshul, said he has not faced such comments.

Girls, however, have had no such luck.

“When I go to an expensive mall, there are some things that are constant. There is always a group of boys who chant ‘chinki’ and think that I am just a cheap woman who is either very loose and easy or cannot afford anything in the store,” said Apino, a Sociology student at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Mr. Lepcha has tried to make sense of this for sometime now. He said: “We look different, we cannot speak Hindi without an accent and we even have a different culture, where we are allowed more choices and freedoms like choosing whom we marry.” The Nagaland Students’ Union and the Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union of Delhi University have planned protest rallies in Lajpat Nagar on Saturday. “These types of scuffles are common, but this incident has affected us deeply,” said Taba Doni.

The Delhi A’chik Youth Association will also hold a mass protest in Lajpat Nagar on Saturday. Changme Sangma said people from the North-East are increasingly becoming targets of locals’ insensitive comments.

Ms. Sangma said: “We have been taking the insults in our stride.”

Describing the incident as unfortunate, Manipuri journalist Khayi said: “I am not supporting the victim because I was not present. But we need to ponder over what made him take action. The truth is people pass comments at us everyday. We look different and people mistake us for Nepali nationals. They do not know about their own country. Recently, I went to get my Aadhaar card made and the official asked me whether I was from Nepal. If I am from Nepal, why would get an Aadhaar card made?”

Rashmi Chhetri, who is from Darjeeling and has been living in Delhi for the past four years, said she has become immune to racial attacks.

“Initially, I would argue with people who would make derogatory comments. I am often ridiculed while waiting at the bus stop or merely walking on the road. I do not encounter such problems on the Metro, but in DTC buses people make comments about my looks.”

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