#India- Open letter to all MPs from North East India #Vaw #Womenrights


OPEN LETTER TO ALL THE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FROM NORTHEAST INDIAN STATES TO BRING IMMEDIATE JUSTICE FOR REIGPHAMY AWUNSHI & OTHER VICTIMS FROM THE NORTHEAST INDIA…

To: Inner and Outer constituency MP of Manipur.
CC: Home Minister; MPs of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.

Subject: Bring immediate justice to Reigphamy Awunshi and other victims from the NorthEast India.

Respected Sir/ Madam,

We the undersigned would like to bring to your attention some very serious concerns relating to recent tragic death of Reigphamy Awunshi.

We strongly believe that the circumstances that lead to the death of the beautiful daughter of Ukhrul and many insensitive and humiliating incidences following the death are a result of many attitudes and attributes that has been formed through the years.

Sir/ Madam, it is great pain to that many of her loving friends and well wishers have to fight to even register a FIR. Worse is the investigating police officer had total disregard and disrespect even for the death that we were told that we are spa working people and it was reason for such incidences of ‘death’ happens.

We wonder how in the face of such attitude which has strong humiliating and degrading attitude towards the people of NorthEast India, Reignphamy Awungshi can even have a unbiased investigation leave alone justice.

Many of us believe there are very strong evidences of homicidal signs and even possibility of sexual assault leading to the death.

Sir/ Madam, we believe one of most important factor that have lead to these ever increasing of negative attitude towards us, that even disrespect us in death is the absence of voices and solidarity of our own people.

We are deeply hurt and angry that our leaders seem to have left us and ignored us during such challenging and tragic times especially aggravated by a biased investigation and non-coverage by the many institution because of our racial origin.

We wish to request you to please exercise your full responsibility and power bestowed by the people who have elected yourself as leaders and make strong initiatives and actions to bring about justice to Reigamphy Awangshi and take punitive actions against those officials and professionals who have made skewed opinions and decision heavily affected by our racial origin.

We would like you to please take notice of the continuing coverage or wilfully undercoveraged in the national media of many such tragic incidences involving people from our north eastern region, which we believe is because of racial prejudice.

We would like to summarise to please share your words of condolences and help Awungshi and help prevent the fate that poor Awungshi have to experience even in death.

We urge to acknowledge the presence of the dangerous racial stereotyping and prejudice that have not only dehumanise and degraded the life of many but also cause many physical and emotional trauma and even have lead to death.

We would be very grateful to you if you Sir/ Madam could exercise your responsibility and power and held those heinous people accountable and herald a new glorious moment in the history of humanity of Manipur and in NorthEast India in general.

Members of Parliament should make significant steps to bring immediate justice to many victims like Reingamphy awungshi and seriously deal with prejudice that have allowed these crimes to happened and then become a huge obstacles towards justice including even toward registering a FIR and manipulation of forensic study.

Thanking you,

A Justice4Richard Initiative

 

How safe is Bangalore for North East Indians? Where is ‘rule of law’?


2:50 AM, 25th October 2012, Bangalore, Manohar  Elavarthi

I feel very tired and exhausted after spending 5 hours running around in the Bangalore City, waiting in front of Seshadripuram Police Station and interacting with the police personnel. I am writing this in the midnight as what I saw today is extremely disturbing and frustrating.

Tejaswini, activist handing the 24×7 NorthEast telephone helpline (http://northeastsolidarity.blogspot.in/2012/08/north-east-helpline-launched-in.html) on behalf of Peace and Solidarity Forum received a phone call at around 9:30 PM on 24th October 2012 from a person of Tripura origin living in Seshadripuram area. He told that North East Indians living in his building were facing constant physical assaults, extortion and threats using dangerous weapons for the past 2 months. Tejaswini, Bharati, Hanumath, Harish, Prakashraj (fellow activists from Praja Rajakiya Vedike http://www.facebook.com/prajarajakiya) and myself rushed from different locations of Bangalore and reached Seshadripuram around 10:15 PM.

We met 8 North East Indians (from Assam and Tripura) living in the same building, 4 people each living in a small room with very little ventilation. They are working as security guards/ sales persons in Mantri Mall/ Orion Mall/ nationalised banks/ other establishments in the nearby localities. These workers didn’t leave Bangalore City during the exodus of estimated 30000 North East Indians out of Bangalore City in August 2012. These people try to save as much as possible from their meagre salaries to be sent to the families back home in the North East. Their ordeal began after Ramzan in end-August.

4 goondas named Karan, Santosh, Manjunath and Ramesh, who live in the same locality started coming in the night, mostly in groups of 2/3 and harass, abuse, threaten and extort money from these North East workers. Multiple time they used sharp knives to threatened these workers and threatened to kill them if they don’t give them money. Multiple times many North East workers were physically assaulted. On the afternoon of 6th October 2012 (Karnataka Bundh on Cauvery issue) 2 of the goondas physically assaulted a worker and asked him to collect Rs. 500/- each from the workers’ from their monthly wages (generally received on 10th day of each month) and give it to the goondas if they want to be be safe. The goondas threatened to kill all the North East workers otherwise.

This seems to have led to most of the 100+ North East workers living in the building running away from there in the past 20 days. Some have shifted to other areas and others have left Bangalore City. Those who continue to live there faced increased brutality. Goondas physically attacked 2 North East workers on 23rd October 2012 night and extorted Rs. 2000/- from them. In the morning of 24th October 2012, the workers went to the Seshdripuram Police Station and complained about their ordeal. Police didn’t bother to take any action. Same day at 7:30 PM the goondas barged into a room, hit a North East worker and snatched his N-70 NOKIA mobile phone away. The workers started calling their people in Tripura and Assam. According to them one of their friend from Tripura got the NorthEast helpline telephone number from the Chief Minister of Tripura (?).

The North East workers told us that they have to give a large amount of their money to these goondas. They said that they are fed-up of giving their hard earned money to these goondas and having no money to celebrate the festival (most of them are Hindu and others are Muslim). By around 10:45 PM we went to the Seshadripuram Police Station. In spite of all our efforts the police personnel were not willing to register the complaint or take action in catching the goondas (the workers wanted to show the houses of goondas so that they can be caught by the police). The police showed no interest in doing their duty. We were told by the police personnel to come on 25th morning as the Police Inspector will come to the station at that time. After waiting (and standing as they made us wait outside the station, where there is no seating) for more than 2 hours in front of the police station, we decided to inform the media.

In spite of it being middle of the night, media personnel from many Kannada-news channels and 1/2 newspapers reached the station in less than 15 minutes time. After media starting to interact with the victims, police started doing their duty. Police started pressurising us to lodge the police complaint before talking to the media. With in 30 minutes time, the Police Inspector also arrived at the station. Police were able to detain 3 of the 4 accused in the Police Station within the next 30 minutes. I am not sure what would have happened without the media presence. Police suddenly started offering us chairs to sit inside the station. They promised security for the North East workers today night. They took the written complaint of the workers and promised to give the FIR copy tomorrow morning.

Even when the police were doing their work after the media intervention, the driver of police Zeep threatened 2 of our activists who accompanied the North East workers in the Zeep to identify the houses of the goondas. He told that there will be no safety for North East workers if we lodge a complaint against the goondas. He told that the goondas have a lot of support in the area and that 50000 strong crowd from the area will hit the North East workers and our activists tomorrow. He told the activists not to register a complaint against the goondas.

Why are the police not-responsive to us? Why is police driver seems to be on the side of goondas? Why are police seem to be soft on these goondas? Do police benefit by being soft on goondas? If this is the police response when a large section of activists come to police station, what will be the police response for the complaints of ordinary citizens and particularly those from disadvantaged sections of society?

Will these North East Indians get justice? Will they be chased away from the area soon. We also heard that one of the goonda (Karan) has multiple police cases against him already. Are we putting the North East Indians in danger by asking them to take action against gross injustice?

This is not the first time, there are many instances of police neglect in the past as well, some of them are

– police took more than 2 hours in the night to visit the house of a North East Indian in Koramangala area who was threatened

– police took more than 2 hours in the night, when a house of North East students were attacked in Banaswadi area with stones, after reaching the place the drunk policeman demanded money from the students

– police didn’t book a case against a senior police officer and his son for brutally assaulting 4 North-East students in the National Games Village recently. Police seems to have fed the false story in the media that the students were drunk and were dancing to the loud music in their flat when the incident took place. Forget loud music, the flat itself was locked at that time. The 4 students were waiting downstairs after coming to visit their friend (who stays in a flat in that apartment complex) as their friend was away. This happens in a place where 2 senior-most officers of North East origin – Mr. Lalrokhuma Pachao (present Director General of Police, Karanatka) and Mr. HT Sangliana (ex-Bangalore City Police Commissioner and ex-Member of Parliament elected to Loksabha from Bangalore City) live in the same area.

It looks like there is no ‘rule of law’. Police are supposed to enforce the ‘rule of law’. Where do ordinary people who have no activist or media connections go? Is there some home? Is there some way?

I will end here, for now.

CONTACT MANOHAR AT – manoharban@gmail.com

Some questions for Guwahati men #VAW #gender #mustread


 

GUEST POST BY- Krishna Malakar

In the year 1991, my family shifted to Guwahati from a village in the outskirts of the city in the hope of better education for their children, better facilities and in all, a better standard of living. I was two years old at that time. I have spent my entire school life in Guwahati. After my class 12th boards, I enrolled myself in Delhi University for higher education. I stayed in Delhi for five years. Now I have come back to my hometown, Guwahati to prepare for entrance examinations for pursuing a PhD. I am delighted to be back home. Staying with one’s own family is a different joy altogether but once I step out of my house it’s a strange world I encounter outside. The men in the streets do not allow me to be what I am as a woman. I have to keep my eyes low or straight on the street in front of me. Otherwise I will fall eye to eye with some staring loser and sometimes end up swallowing comments like ‘Madam, where to?’ or ‘what is your rate?’  Sigh! I have vomited my frustration in the following paragraphs and whatever I have written is based on my own and my women friends’ experiences and contains no real statistics.

In these last few years, there have been some major changes in the city’s infrastructure and lifestyle. A number of flyovers have sprung up, international fast food outlets like KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos, etc. have opened up their franchises, international clothing brands are easily available, number of internet and mobile phone users have increased manifold, easy access to international TV channels and so on. The youth and the middle-aged men wear jeans. (The earlier generation used to wear trousers and the generation earlier to them used to wear dhotis). These days, people enjoy Hollywood movies and listen to Akon, Mettalica, Black Eyed peas etc. There have been visible changes in people’s lifestyle and such change is inevitable. Many ‘international’ things have successfully taken place in our lives but ‘international’ thinking has failed to seep into the minds of Guwahatians. People still consider a girl wearing shorts, skirts, or having a drink as a taboo.

Strange it may sound given that Northeast India is considered more ‘women- friendly’ than rest of India but I have experienced more eve teasing in these last three months of my stay in Guwahati than in the entire five years in Delhi put together.

I generally dress in full-length jeans and tops or kurtis. It’s a personal choice I make. Tomorrow if I wish to wear shorts on the streets I would like to wear one. It is none of people’s business what I am wearing. But the problem lies in the fact that even if I cover my entire body, I deserve to be teased, as I am a woman, it is not because what I am wearing but because what my gender is. Thank you Society, you have indeed been successful in keeping ‘a girl within her limits’! No late night parties for girls otherwise she will be tagged as a prostitute (especially in Guwahati). No skirts and shorts, girls! Now people will question me why do I want to wear skirts and shorts like girls do in metro cities or other countries, why don’t I follow my own culture. I would say that I love my culture and I love Assamese clothing. I always make it a point to wear a mekhla chadar (a traditional Assamese woman- wear) during Saraswati Puja. I would jump at any occasion where I can adorn a mekhla chadar or a sari. But when I go to meet my friends in a mall (mall is not a part of Assamese culture, by the way), I would like to wear a western outfit. After this statement I hope people don’t think of closing malls and fast food joints as they are instigating girls to wear western outfits! If Guwahatians can accommodate malls, fast food, English songs, and western outfits for boys then why can’t people accept girls wearing western clothes?

I remember reading somewhere that the blouse that is worn with a sari is actually a western innovation. It is not a part of Indian culture. Previously, women used to wear saris without a blouse, which is still the preferred way to dress among some ethnic cultures. In mekhela chadars and saris, the back and the belly of a woman are clearly visible, then why can’t girls wear tops where the belly is hardly visible! Saris expose more body than skirts. Why can’t girls wear skirts then? We can’t blame a girl’s clothes for a man’s behavior. Even fully clothed women in saris and kurtas become victims of a man’s touch or comment. What do the people of the civilized society have to say on this? Is it a curse to be woman and hence be subjected to humiliation? Shouldn’t men be taught to behave rather than teaching girls to sit at homes? When will Guwahati men stop sexualizing every other woman they see on the street?

Also, people here in Guwahati consider women who drink as ‘characterless’. When will people get rid of these primitive ideas? If a man drinks in a gentlemanly way and do not create a scene, his character is considered to be intact. Why does not the same thing apply to women? Don’t we women have the right to enjoy a few cheerful drinks with our friends?

In Guwahati, open urination is such a popular hobby among men! Keeping public places clean is an alien etiquette for them. They don’t even bother to find a secluded place to attend to nature’s call. If a girl passes by them, she will turn their heads in the opposite direction out of embarrassment, but our Guwahati men are macho enough to continue staring the girl while peeing. Bravo! There has been no protest in Guwahati against men exposing their most private parts in public.

When I was in Delhi I used to read newspaper reports about rapes almost everyday and most rape incidents occurred at secluded areas and at late nights. There have been number of molestation cases also outside pubs and nightclubs. But X-ray stares, hoots, whistles, leering and jeering from men were rare in my experience, maybe 2 out of 10 men will do so. But here in Guwahati, in broad daylight, starting from early morning to late night, almost every man in the street will stare at you and some of the passing guys will make loud audible comments at you. And this is not limited to poor and illiterate males; males belonging to almost every class of the society shamelessly participate in eve teasing. Even education seems to have failed to bring in refinement of the male mental faculty. For me, in Guwahati, people trying to touch me in public buses, people colliding with me intentionally when I walk on the footpath or in markets are common. But in Delhi, I haven’t faced ‘pre- planned collisions’.

In Delhi, the participating male sees molestation as an offence. The police will never dare to portray the girl in a bad light. The media, intellectuals and the NGOs are supportive. But in Guwahati, if you are a woman and a victim of molestation, most of the local TV channels will title the news as ‘Girl creates ruckus in public area’ and the police will arrive half an hour late to take the girl ‘who was behaving indecently’ away from the angry mob. No action will be taken against the mob at that instant. The viewers seeing all of these on TV at home will curse the girl, question her character and blame her for whatever had happened to her. Only after the news is nationalized, is on youtube and facebook the regional media and the police will realize that a heinous crime has been committed against the girl and the mob should have been arrested.

The regional media features stories every now and then on how the Assamese youth, especially girls, are threats to ‘Assamese culture’ and how moral cleansing is the need of the hour. Here in Guwahati most of the people, especially the youth are scared of TV camerapersons. Most camerapersons are very efficient in capturing couples on their cameras spending some ‘lovey dovey’ time in parks. They film girls wearing shorts, skirts on streets (without their knowledge) and feature them in stories discussing how Assamese girls have lost their moral values in these modern times. Even girls wearing quarter length pants are not spared. People get pleasure in watching news stories about how leggings worn by girls beneath their kurtas get wet in the rain and become transparent. That particular channel where this story was aired is of the opinion that girls should not wear leggings and wear cotton pyjamas that do not stick to the skin. How ridiculous! Is this what the media is for? I think the situation has become a lot worse for young women after the state has been blessed with 24- hours news channels.

Yes, I agree women are oppressed all over the world. There have been complaints against molestation, rape, and domestic violence from even developed countries. Unlike the Punjabis and Haryanvis who take pride in their loud and rowdy attitude, the Assamese society takes pride in their peace loving, meek and polite attitude. But I am saddened to say that my observations have been contradictory to the above statement. Majority of Guwahati men are definitely not meek and polite. Just the other day, my female friend (who is on a visit from Delhi) and I were complimented with whistles and comments like ‘amaak fuck koribo diba neki?’ (‘Will you allow us to fuck you?’) in a city park! On another occasion the same day a man in his 30s commented on how my friend’s breasts were like apples in front of strangers on the streets. This is nothing new; I have been facing such harassment since as long as I can remember. Even 10 years back, I had to deal with men caressing my body while they passed by me. 10 years back, as a little girl, I used to shout at them. But now, after 10 years, I am afraid to raise my voice. I fear if I raise my voice, I may become a target of mob rage, I may get molested and become the next ‘indecent girl’ news story. I have been made to realize that it is better to listen to the dirty comments than actually give them a chance to touch me with their dirty hands.

Is it so hard for Guwahati men to behave as humans? Their sisters and mothers must be going through the same, don’t they think about them before making a comment on a girl on the street? Is teasing and molesting women, are part of Assamese culture? When will the media start acting in a responsible and ethical manner and stop imposing a new form of ‘talibanism’? When will women themselves stop looking down upon women who have been victims of molestation, rape or eve teasing? When will men think that a girl wearing shorts is not an invitation for them to tease or molest? When men have accepted westernization in their lifestyle, why can’t women be a part of it? I do not think its impossible to answer these questions if someone really attempts to.

Krishna Malakar

Guwahati

contact her at  krishnamalakar26@gmail.com 

 

Stand up for people from the North-East India #mustshare


 

The campaign logo itself invites and let you get into the shoe of a little brown fish, discriminated and humiliated just because she was born with a different look and color from the rest. This is the same treatment the people who originate from North East India receive. It is time we unite and stand for our rights!

THE BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT:

Today the people of North-East (NE) India face several issues of racial discrimination, harassment and violence outside their home states as a result of lack of awareness among the citizens of India about the region of NE and its culture. Each day we suffer and each day we wonder why we are made to feel as “foreigners” in our own nation. Is this what we would like to call “home sweet home”?

Within the states of North-East India, short-sighted government policies such as ‘The Armed Forces Special Powers Act’, the lack of control of illegal migration from Bangladesh and general governmental neglect has resulted in increased alienation of the people from the democratic processes. What could be blamed – xenophobia, racism or simply, lack of awareness?

INCEPTION:

SDPFNEI (Stop Discriminating People from North-East India) started as an online discussion group (www.facebook.com/sdpftnei) to address issues of discrimination faced by North-East Indians. We believe, although the circumstances are harsh but a sense of perpetuated victimization can only be counter-productive.

Recognizing online social networking platforms such as Facebook to be a feasible, easily accessible and vital platform to create general awareness and dispel the visage of racial stereotype(s). While addressing key issues/complaints faced by the people by highlighting them and followed by public debates, we realize the need to generate active interest in the NE region.

The members realized that the awareness of the land of the Seven Sisters has remained almost non-existent among the Indian citizens even after 60 years of the nation’s independence. The achievement and sacrifices of the people from this region in nation building (Defence, Technology, Sports and Administrative Services etc) has been largely ignored by the nation’s media, its educational systems and the political leadership. The group has resolved to proactively address these issues via constructive engagement with the government, national institutions and the conscious citizens of India.

KEY ISSUES:

A) We face harassment and discrimination almost every day. Our women are subject to frequently sexual assaults. Some of our fellow citizens continue to verbally abuse and stereotype us by calling us “Chinky”, “Nepali”, “Bahadur”, “Chinese” and various other slurs have become a daily occurrence. Many Indians are hypersensitive to any perceived (real or imaginary) racial slur they may receive outside India. However within India, the same people remain largely oblivious to the far more frequent and intense racial insults, harassment and violence heaped on India’s citizens from north-east India.

B) The continued sexual assaults and heinous crimes against the women of the North East India increases at an alarming rate. Metropolitan Indian cities have a tendency to be notorious regarding women’s safety in general but the recent spike in such untoward incidents indicate that sexual predators find the “different” looking (Mongoloid facial features) women as an ‘easier prey’.

C) The fruits of modern infrastructure & economic development have largely bypassed the NE region. Leaders in New Delhi should handle the issues pertaining to the region with more sensitivity and maturity. Rather than compounding the problem by their myopic view of the region via a security lens only.

D) Six decades after the nations independence, many of its citizens are still forced to conduct their daily life with guns pointed at them by their own Government. The indigenous inhabitants of the North East are still forced to live with the draconian Armed Forces special Powers Act (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura) along with Jammu and Kashmir) which is a misguided mechanism that has done more harm than good. Decades of ASFPA has only helped propagate a culture of violence and hate. Fundamental rights of the people need to be recognized. India as the largest democratic country cannot overlook the loopholes in the myopic vision by the central leaders of the past.

E) The mainstream media only covers news about violence and insurgency in the North East region instead of covering thousands of other stories that more truly reflect its rich vibrant culture, history and unique landscape. It’s a shame that for many decades India’s government, politicians, and rest of the country still continue to ignore the NE states. It has mostly been a case of out-of-sight and out-of-mind as far as the mainstream media is concerned.

F) The North East region is a beautiful place with rich eco-geographical landscapes, physical and human resources. We are a friendly people blessed with multi-faceted talents that range from music, education, fashion, sports etc. Visitors would find the people friendly with rich cultural heritage. The fabled head hunting warriors or barbaric tribesmen are but a myth.

WE ARE NOT ANTI-INDIA:

1. We believe that raising awareness is the key to identifying and perusing the solutions to the above issues. Hiding the issues “under the carpet” makes matters only worse.

2. This forum is not anti-India. Though we focus on issues relating to North-East Indians, we believe that addressing issues of discriminations faced by any group or community in India is actually a patriotic act that truly contributes to nation-building.

3. A nation becomes strong when all its communities in various forms are truly made to feel as equal citizens of the nation.

Many years ago Rabindranath Tagore wrote a Nobel prize winning poem that began and ended thus:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
——————————————————
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

SDPFNEI strives to achieve the above ideals which as yet have remained unrealized many years since the nation’s birth. The views expressed by the members of the forum are solely their own and are not endorsed by the Stop Discrimination of People from North-East India.

Can you sign the petition to help add more pressure on the Government? 

We need all the responsible citizens like you to join the movement to end racial discrimination in this generation.More signatures will add strength to the opposition to this campaign.

Please do include your full name, email and your current city while signing up.

GET INVOLVED, SIGN THE PETITION: We have launched the Signature Campaign on April 23 in New Delhi. Now the signature campaign will go on till nov 13, 2011 nationwide and we expect to achieve upto 3 Lacs of signatures. This is the only way we can make the government listen to our cries.

To read and sign the petition, please visit

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/neindia/

join us on facebook

https://www.facebook.com/SDPFTNEI

 

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