• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 4:30pm
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INDIA

'Are you from China?' College student, 20, killed by racist thugs in New Delhi

Indians from a part of nation near Myanmar and China say they face discrimination in rest of the country for their 'Asian' features

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 February, 2014, 1:44am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 February, 2014, 8:27am

He was a slight young man, who sported hipster eyeglasses and a wispy moustache. He had dyed his spiky hair blond, but that was not the only thing that made college student Nido Tania stand out in the Indian capital.

Tania was from northeastern India, a narrow strip of territory wedged between China and Myanmar, whose people say they face discrimination in the rest of the country for having "Asian" facial features. When Tania, 20, stopped in a dairy to ask for directions on Tuesday afternoon, the shopkeeper taunted Tania for not knowing his way around, saying, "Are you from China?" and making fun of his hair.

The incident escalated into a violent altercation in which several men thrashed him with sticks and steel rods, friends and officials said.

He died in his bed the next day, succumbing to severe injuries to the chest and brain, according to preliminary medical results provided to his family.

The incident has sparked outrage in New Delhi, which was already reeling from a spate of high-profile rape cases, and has added to a growing sense of insecurity in a capital that is aiming to be a showcase for India's growing economic might.

Hundreds of protesters rallied on Saturday in Lajpat Nagar, the market where the beating took place, calling it a hate crime and demanding that the assailants be prosecuted.

"This was a racist hate crime," said Albina Subba, an advertising writer originally from the northeast Himalayan town of Darjeeling.

"Our community is often targeted like this … We look different, so it's easy for people to see we're not from Delhi."

She added: "We have little faith in the Delhi police, but this time we want them to take action."

"This happens every day in Delhi. Each and every one of us has experienced discrimination because of our physical features," said Sophy Chamroy, a 22-year-old student from the northeastern state of Manipur.

India's 1.2 billion people have many languages and customs but, as with the rape cases, racially motivated assaults seem to occur in New Delhi and other major cities with regularity. Many victims from the northeast are young people who have migrated to the capital for school or job opportunities lacking in their poorer home areas.

Last year in New Delhi, three students from Manipur were beaten by neighbours. In a separate case, a 21-year-old beautician from Manipur was found dead in her apartment with injuries to her face and toes. Police labelled it a suicide and dropped the case but many suspected she was slain.

So widespread is the discrimination against people from northeastern India that the federal government in 2012 passed a law that punishes the use of a racial slur with up to five years in prison. Still, activists say, authorities rarely enforce such laws and police are as likely to participate in discrimination as intervene to stop it.

"You don't know what is on the minds of people in Delhi, because these incidents keep on recurring," said Geetartha Barua, an official with the state government of Arunachal Pradesh, where Tania lived.

Tania was in New Delhi on vacation and going to visit an ailing friend in the area near Lajpat Nagar when he walked into the dairy, friends said.

Tania smashed a glass display case in anger after being taunted, prompting the shopkeeper and several other men from the market to set upon him and a friend. The shopkeepers called the police, who got Tania to pay about US$120 for the broken glass. The police did not take any action against the assailants, Barua said.

Police officers let Tania go, but when he passed the shop a second time the attackers beat him again, said Jotam Toko Tagam, the former president of a New Delhi organisation for students from Arunachal Pradesh. When he reached his sister's flat, where he was staying, he complained of pain and was bleeding from his wrist. He fell asleep early on Thursday morning after applying balms across his body, Tagam said. Around 1pm the next day, friends tried to wake him but found his body cold and limp. Brought to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival, Barua said.

The case sparked an outcry across Indian media and websites with many criticising the response by the Delhi police. Three men reportedly have been detained for questioning. Barua said police did not open a murder investigation until 24 hours after Tania had died, after the incident had begun to make news.

"We are being forced to go exert pressure on different quarters to get the police to investigate this matter properly, at a time when the situation is very sad," Barua said.

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This article is now closed to comments

guy.pant
It's been noted that about half the rape cases in New Delhi involve girls of Manipur and the NE. Their East Asian features alone make them a target of racism and assaults. They have no history with pre-India until the British drew its borders so now Anglo-sphere gives India a free pass when Manipuris and surrounding regions have sought independence from India.
Rajpots
I do know and understand that Racial abuse can happen anywhere in the world in form of unintentional or intentional comments and expressions but it should not happen everyday, everywhere and from everyone. When an Indian student was racially abused and killed in Australia, there was a huge India Government pressure involving minister flying over here to make the issue handle with seriousness . In response one of the Australian minister fly back to India and guarantee the security of its citizens.
Now the question is
1.How will the same India Government deal with their people racial abuse and killing case of north east state citizens?
2. Will they send out government officials to those states to make them feel secured to visit India other states?
3. Will India take action to those police or law makers who never get ready to investigate the case of north east people case/report honestly and sincerely?
4. Will India let these north east states go off and form another nation or join another nation who have the same or similar culture and looks?
5. Or will India let kills the north east citizens in the name of race and distance?
I am writing this just to let you know that: It could have been me killed instead of "Nido" if i was there in the wrong place and time for just being different or It could have been my brother and sister who are out there making a career and life.
Cheers
Rajpots
5. Though this states citizen has some of the highest literacy (not only reading or writing local language but also in English, Science, Arts, and Management etc) rate in India, none of these states has enough specialized university or education institutes to cater the students. One reason for the lack of this educational facility is also linked to industry and employment. As there is no industry in these states, institutes or university cannot promise students with placement opportunity or interviews.
6. Many/Majority of the young people from these states has to go to other India’s developed states to study specialist course (IT, Engineering, Medicine, Management etc) or find better employment (Many of the students from this states are also found studying Medicine in China, I was surprised to meet few of them in Shanghai and Chengdu).
7. Many of the India citizens hasn't studied or probably studied but don't understand the geographical and demographic sensitivity. I am mentioning this as many racial abused also come from educated family member and not only from uneducated people.
8. Not to ignore many of the north east people who come out to other India states fail to analyze the local situation looking into the local Indians minds. Well, this should not be the reason/cause of racial abuse. But it could have saved a life.
Rajpots
The Core issues:
1. India (politically) hasn’t yet intentionally and honestly recognized this states and citizens as its own due to the distance and difference.
2. No industrialization/development policy has been implemented by India government properly in these states. Reasons Stated: These states are far from mainland and have logistics issues and dangerous situation created by anti-nationalist or freedom fighters.
3. Majority of the employment are in the form of government office (unproductive) or small business to support the local requirements. (My Idea: Tourism and Herbal medicinal industry can be implemented easily as well as many mineral resources are available). Personally, I would like tourism in form of health and education as well as sport tourism. Herbal Plantation can be a major export oriented business.)
4. Money in the form of development fund is dump from India government through government channel and it never reaches the development implementation table of public. All this money flows back quickly again to the origin (India Government) as everything has to be bought from outside state.
Rajpots
People, Food and Culture from this States:
1. Sino-Tibeto-Burmese looks with small eyes, fair complexion and black hairs.
2. Physically strong and adventurous.
3. Goods sportsmanship (Many international game representatives for India are from these states: Boxing, Archery, taekwondo’s, cycling, football or soccer, etc. POLO is a game originated from this state )
4. Aggressive and fighting spirit. (Many a time this become negative if used wrongly)
5. Strong link to Sino-Burmese food style: use of Nato (soy bean paste), bamboo shoot (fresh and fermented), Jew ear (fungus), Chinese chives, Bok choy, lotus roots, etc.
6. Rice is main food and served three times a day.
7. Tea (green and black) is offered as welcome drink to friends and strangers visiting home.
8. Natural Environment worshipers like Jungle God, Water god, Mountain God. However, many people has adopted, accepted and converted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity.
9. Elders are shown respect by bowing or kneeling on the ground. (Bit tough to find now a days)
10. Love marriage is the most common way of getting settle between opposite sex (From olden times).
Last part: Core Issues.....
Rajpots
Folks,
To understand the whole situation, you need to know from the people of Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura states (county). If the comments or information comes from other part of India, it may be misleading or missing the core knowledge. I belong to Manipur State and had studied and worked in few parts of India (Mysore, Bangalore, Pune, and Delhi) and currently I am living in Sydney.
I agree that because of our looks, features, culture, food habits and attitude we stand out very different from any majority Indian looks or behaviour (or Mainland India), this make us easy target of racial abuse, discrimination as well as physical harm. I personally had experienced it and have tackled it in my own way which i believe many young northeasterns fails to do so.
Few facts of this States:
1. North Eastern states were Independent Nations before British colonization and after IIWW, this nations were included or annexed to India (willingly or forcefully).
2. North East states (county) are linked to India through a very narrow chicken neck stripe land route (siliguri) otherwise geographically and demographically it is more closure and related to Sino, Tibetian and Burmese race.
3. Culturally and economically this places are not exposed or developed properly and honestly by India, so many Indians citizen don't know this places, culture and people existence.
To be Continued
caractacus
Yet again, the comments on this article reveal a very ugly side of Chinese culture, racism.
gary345@gmail.com
Yet again, another asylum patient that ran off from the hospital/centre.
chuhwang
the only difference between Indians and dogs is, Dogs know their neighbors but Indians don't.
Tral.特拉尔
SEE, PEOPLE! ARUNACHAL PRADESH SHOULD REALLY BELONG TO CHINA!!! EVEN THEIR NATIVES LOOK CHINESE!!

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