Does India really consider North-East, a part of India?

Interviewer: Tarunika Rajesh, Campus Ambassador and Research Intern, LexQuest.

Interview with Student, Law College Dehradun.

Anjan Prasad Sahu.

Age -19 years.

Course: B.B.A LL.B., 2nd YEAR 

Being from Manipur, Anjan recounts his experiences that he has been a part of due to his ethnicity/race. He becomes very emotional during this conversation which forces us to think that we are a part of a society that does not view people from the North-east as Indians. This interview is a firsthand personal account of the discrimination that people from the North east India face and experience.

 Anjan

  • Anjan, have you experienced any backlash for your ethnicity before?

There is a reason for everything. The Hate-crimes committed against the North-Eastern people reflect a reality that many Non North-easterners would not take seriously.

The reality is that we, (and when I say, WE, I speak on behalf of the people who belong to any one amongst the seven sister states {it now includes Sikkim too}) are not accepted socially by the mainstream Indians. A majority of the population in our college addresses us as ‘chinkis’ and other such offensive pseudonyms which is a part and parcel of my regular college life. I get this treatment almost every day and my friends are witness to this .But now I have stopped raising my voice against such bully’s because it leads to nothing but fights and more fights and injuries that literally leave a scar on me personally and physically too ( points to his stitching mark on the right side of his chin ).

  • So, you silently endure such treatment without raising your voice?

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‘’I did it every day since I left Manipur to study in Guhwahti , Assam. It increased manifold times and yes, truth be told; the discrimination against the North-east Indians is way too high in North India. Coming back, I raised my voice every time someone tried to mess with me directly or indirectly concerning my ethnic race or my culture in the hostel or outside. I have been into major fights endlessly…This scar here was due to an iron rod that passed through my chin, again in a fight due to the same old reasons.  What pains me the most is the image that mainstream Indians have about us, North-east Indians which involves us

  1. Being drug-addicts.
  2. Being violent people

These are certain common misconceptions that mainstream Indians have about us. Irony is, such characteristics are largely found in the North-Indians too and even if North-Indians, but is fairly common amongst people across the globe. But certain Indians, hold it just against us and use it to slight us consciously. I tried to change this mentality by being as calm as possible, I tried to reason it out rationally with many people here when they got into rows with my friends from Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland (let me tell you, We North-East Indians are very protective about our land and if someone tries to slander it; we can get into major quarrels.) But to no avail as I realised that it’s just like beating your head to a wall because they have this road-block against us that cannot be removed. People out of ignorance or whatever their reasons maybe offend me or people like me and in such situations, I remain cool and tell them to not do it in the politest manner possible. But to my shock, instead of apologising or even hearing me out , they leave and within seconds return with their friends (who are 5-7 in Number ) and threaten me . Common statements heard during such ethnic altercations are ‘’who the heck you think you are? What do you think of yourself? And the bashing begins.. The place I reside in currently, (Suddhowala) is a hub for North-east Indians and everyday there is some clash or the other happening between some North-east Indian Guy/girl and a North Indian person. I try my level best to sort it out amongst them. You know, there is a reason why the North-East Indians don’t mix with people from other races… (It’s a rarity) because they feel victimised at some point of time or the other and to avoid feeling humiliated or slighted they prefer to stick around amongst themselves.

I tried to mingle with other people as I tried really hard to change this perception but then the sad truth is, I was treated as an Outsider in some way or the other; like I don’t belong to the Country itself .But through time sent here, I developed a hard skin and survived it all. But many can’t. I was treated differently because I have different facial features which ‘’surprisingly’’ make me a ‘stranger’ than other Indians. Such incidents and experiences only make me feel, strengthens my faith in the belief of the many people fighting for sovereignty. Maybe yes, the uprisings happening back home is happening for a right reason.[1]…Maybe my Great-grandfather’s, my relatives, the militant groups are all right; raising their claims of separation from India for a justified reason. Honestly, I paid no heed to such demands back in Imphal, but after coming here and travelling to places like Delhi..I see an Arunachali Guy being killed for his hairstyle, I hear of Manipuri girl being raped and murdered, I hear of people knowing nothing Madam Sharmila’s struggle for peace since the past 14 years…Such things rile me.

Anjan

Yes, I am young. Yes; I may have less experience in life but from what I can see, according to my rationality…Yes there maybe some trace of truth in the demands of the militant groups, there is a lot of pent up anger in the hearts and minds of people back home which is why such fights are a regular thing to witness in North-East areas.

But then again, ‘’an eye for eye doesn’t always work.’’ Many don’t know about the system that will soon be implemented in Manipur called the ‘’Inner-line permit system ‘’ which is basically a system created which will compel other state people to avail permission to reside /live/ enter the State of Manipur. This system is endorsed by the King of Manipur himself who believes that ‘if we are not accepted in other cities, might as well met out the same treatment to other people ‘’.  The truth is that we , North east Indians have a different culture, we speak different, we eat differently  we look different everything about us is different..Such thoughts have been manipulated to suit the demands of the militia back home which is fortified more due to the discrimination all of us face every day in our lives.

Manipur was the last state to be annexed among other 2 states around the 60’s maybe… And do you know how? The King of Manipur was put into House-arrest when Mr. Sardar Valabhai Patel annexed Manipur to India which is the root cause behind all the angst and uproar among us all. This is what is happening to Crimea and the world is angry.. But what happened to Manipur has been lost in oblivion somewhere in the dark corners of our political history.

The encounters committed by the Army are not looked into , the Police commits  violent , nasty crimes on people on the pretext of maintaining peace and calm even today, but cases filed against them are not looked into and all of this continues…It hurts me beyond reason to see my  beautiful motherland burn down…

[1] Manipur is experiencing political and social turmoil due to the presence and activities of many Militant groups who are claiming separate statehood. Hundreds of people have been till date, to the crossfire between the Indian Army , Politicians and the Militant groups

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