Is it because the north east people residing out side the region, particularly in New Delhi arming with inferiority complex become touchy, as a fallout of the mindset problem that the mainland Indians are discriminatory in attitude towards the minority North Easterners? (I opted for the term mainland Indians as no other appropriate description isavailable though this term too falls short of giving complete definition with respect to North East India region. There are numerous terms but they will not suit in this particular article. Rather, they may add to communal color) Numerous protests against the sexual assaults on the fairer sex hailing from the Northeast region have been carried out by certain NGOs and student organizations in New Delhi.
Now, what we need to ponder over is the nature of the crime and the circumstances leading to the crime. Effort to identify the domicile of the prey and the perpetrators is necessary. It is also important to note whether the crimes have been the one-way traffic. To begin with, we may ask whether all the incidents of rape and molestation meted out only on girls from the north eastern region. In all these cases of sexual abuse, were all the perpetrators from the mainland Indians? Were there cases where male mainland Indians raped mainland women? We may still ask whether any case or two being reported involving North East men molesting mainland Indian women in New Delhi or elsewhere? Charting out a concrete graph based on this linear of queries is a must to understand the nature of affairs.
In case if the graph happens to indicate that almost all the victims hailed from the North East region and the perpetrators are (nearly) always from the mainland Indians, then it can be a matter of serious concern. If this is the case, one may as well, investigate things even to other spheres of crime taking place whether discriminatory based incidents towards the North Easterners by others really exist. This is merely to confirm whether our judgment has been driven by our emotion.
Also, at the end of the day, the statistics of the total number of sex related crime of the whole country and the same crime on North East women should be compared. As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports, 20,737 rape cases were registered in the year 2007 while in 2006 the total number of rape cases reported was 19,384 and in the year 2005 18,359 rape cases were registered and 18,233 in 2004 against 15,847 in 2003. The records for the year 2008, 2009 and 2010 are not available at the moment.
Meanwhile, the NCRB reports said rape cases in India jump 678% since 1971. Now, let us take the case of New Delhi where the brouhaha attracts public attention.
According to a paper presented by Mr. Madhu Chandra of North East Support Center and Helpline in a seminar, altogether there have been 8 cases of molestation in the year 2009 in New Delhi on the North East women, two such cases in the year2010 and 15 cases from 2005 to 2008.
Regarding the rape cases on North East women in the national capital, there was just one case in 2009 and from 2005 to 2008 there were two cases.
There have been cases of physical assault on the North Easterners but since this article concentrates on sexual assault details of other nature of crime have not been mentioned. When figures of sexual crime against the girls from the North East region are compared with the overall crime cases of the same nature in the national capital alone, it is not too easy to conclude things on racial discrimination basis. However, it will be wrong to dismiss it as just chance-incidents either before the probe.
(Just note that there have been nearly 300 cases of rape recorded by Delhi police in the first five months of 2010. Regarding these cases, the victims and the perpetrators were mainland Indians).
It is very important to gather the whole circumstances leading to the crime. North Easterners are minority people out there in every Indian city outside the North East region. Any crime involving a North Easterner may send bigger ripples than those incidents without them in a place like Delhi because it always becomes a piece of news when a man bites a dog and not the other way round. It is to say that several violent related crimes take place in a big place like New Delhi in a single day and people have become indifferent to such things except the blasts and firings as they carry global dictum of the term ‘terrorism’. However, a simple crime involving two elements of different racial stock can mean something else altogether. Such a case tends to add communal color and becomes cacophonous all the more. Once a situation where fear psychosis begins to grip among the minority in any society, a usual attitude of your neighbor who hails from outside your community may appear unusual because you begin to read so much on that person. A hunter shoots his colleague mistaken it for a deer because as he waits for the animal his whole concentration focuses on the deer. To any object, for him becomes a deer.
However, it is wrong to give an assumptive conclusion that the sexual molestation and rape cases on the North East women perpetrated by the mainland Indians were never a discriminatory in nature. Before making the brouhaha, first detail the cirscumstances leading to the crime. Cirscumstances are very important materials to confirm whether any crime in question is racial in nature or something else. We may also ask why do the Delhi police had to issue a Dos and Don’ts booklet for the Northeast students in New Delhi? One advice mentioned in the Delhi police booklet asks the Northeast students to avoid cladding revealing dresses and to avoid lonely places and bylanes when scantily clad. Issuing of this booklet speaks volumes. We should have enough common sense to match the occasions we are attending with the dress we use. The bottomline is—let us do our homework first before we take things to the streets. The writer is the editor of Newmai News Network (NNN).