Food for thought- How can we call the Northeast people Anti-Nationals when we don’t even consider them as a part of our nation?
2 weeks ago we saw that side of the coin where the brave General Bakshi, unafraid of bullets, was brought to tears on Arnab Goswami’s show, The Newshour, by the rebellious voices opposing the government’s decision to hoist the national flag inside central universities. Most of us sympathized with him, including the HRD minister herself, as we couldn’t find any valid reason for any Indian to ever have a problem in hoisting the national flag in the country when our army men can risk their lives at the borders for us.
Few days ago, however, a Manipuri man, called Chinglen Kshetrimayum, wrote a heartrending open letter to General Bakshi, Arnab Goswami and Indian people as a whole and that has indeed compelled us to see the other side of the coin as well. Read the full letter here.
Chinglen describes himself to be a guy who has grown up as a proud Indian, singing the national anthem, hoisting the national flag at his Sainik school at Imphal and being excited about Diwali vacations. He had never felt any less Indian unless he stepped out of his region and faced what most people from Northeast do -invariable discrimination and spite from fellow Indians.
‘Chinki‘ (hinting ‘from China’) is what we casually call them, right? Although this word was legally banned in 2012, the general tendency of racial discrimination against them prevails in most of us, the proof being multiple cases of violence against Northeast Indians reported in the following years. According to police records, in Delhi alone, the count of FIRs related to hate crime against Northeast Indians have increased from 89 in 2013 to 280 in 2014 to 296 in 2015. We don’t think twice before alienating or bullying them; or treating them as foreigners in their own country. Why should they not feel less Indian?
Sikkim is the first Indian state to have 97% sanitation. Nagaland is the first Indian state to completely ban all forms of tobacco. Mizoram and Meghalaya are among the top 10 states in the country with the highest child sex ratio (as measured in 2015) and former has been having zero female feticide/infanticide issues for many years now. The Khasi Tribe of this region is a fully matriarchal tribe where women run both family business and the house. The Northeastern people also form the second highest ethnic group in the national armed forces. So basically they have those qualities that the rest of India should be proud and boastful of. Instead we are busy labelling them as outcast and making fun of their physical features. Why should they not feel less Indian?
Chinglen further, in his letter, talks about the condition of the Seven Sister States with respect to AFSPA and questions why the country sympathises with General Bakshi but not that woman who had been fasting for over 15 years demanding the removal of this Act. Before dismissing these protesters as anti-nationals or terrorists, we must note that they themselves are in no less terror. For people like us, going through none of the turmoil, the sudden deaths, the rapes, the constant sufferings and agitation caused by the presence of AFSPA, it is merely a controversial topic to debate on, but for the residents, it is something they are experiencing every single day of their life. But then, we don’t care about their life, do we? Why should they not feel less Indian?
The man points out that we are all waiting for that hypothetical ‘right situation’ to come for AFSPA to be decommissioned while none of us have an idea of when or whether at all that moment will arrive. Probably, the right situation will be when everyone from Northeast India will stop contemplating disintegration of the country and will peacefully accept their Indian nationality. However, that can happen only if we, the people from the other parts of India and the government, make them feel equal, accepted, appreciated, looked after and most importantly Indian instead of discriminated, neglected, misunderstood and tortured.
We must make them run out of reasons to complain about or feel different from us. Only then can we question their ‘disloyalty’. It is up to us to maintain India in one piece. So are you in for it? Let us know in your comments, what you think.