IMPHAL, May 8: Union Human Resources Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal today assured Northeast delegates on the opening of UGC helpline for NE students with regard to cases of racial profiling and amendment of UGC bye-laws to ban racial discrimination in universities and educational institutes in the country.
The HRD Minister met a host of NE representatives including Prof Oinam Bhagat of JNU, Sanjay Hazarika of Assam, Prof Mrinal Miri Chairman of NE Central universities; Monika Khangembam a Bangalore based student and Yogendra Yadav of CSDS.
Earlier, ban on caste based discrimination was included in the University Grants Commission (UGC) norms. Minister Kapil Sibal has agreed to amend and include racial discrimination also on the banned list.
He however refused to make any comments on racial discrimination outside the institutions and in the case of the murders of Richard Loitam in Bangalore and Dana Sangma in Delhi as it is within the domain of law and order and with the states concerned.
He agreed to organize an interface between the NE students and the Director Generals of Police of various states to discuss issues of racial profiling.
Minister Sibal also agreed to include the issue of racial discrimination in the admission policies of various colleges and universities of the country as an agenda during the conference of vice-chancellors of universities.
Monika Khangembam, a Manipuri student based in Bangalore submitted a memorandum to the Union Minister on behalf of herself, Human Rights Alert and civil society organizations in Imphal pressing for a high level commission to be headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court on racial discrimination of NE students.
Minister Sibal was non-committal on the demand as he said it was beyond his brief.
The suggested terms of reference for the commission included identification of the challenges and barriers to the protection and promotion of personal security of students and young persons from the Northeast region of India living in other parts of India, with special reference to gender-specific violence in order to enhance participation and integration into the national mainstream and address ethnic profiling of racial and ethnic minorities who do not necessarily belong to religious minorities; examination of the legislative and administrative measures that are in place, and the efficacy in practice and specific inadequacies to address the problems of violence and other forms of abuses faced by students and young persons of the Northeast region in other parts of India; recommendation of specific investigative and punitive steps under the existing law by an independent agency for present and past cases/incidence of crimes including murder, assault, sexual abuse, rape, abuse or discrimination in institutions and workplaces committed against students and young persons of the Northeast region residing in other parts of India; and recommendation of concrete steps to be taken by the ruling central and state governments to strengthen the accountable security measures to protect and promote the safety and personal security of students and young persons from the Northeast region residing for various reasons in other parts of the country.
It also called for a thorough review of the existing curricula of schools, higher institutions and technical institutions including special institutions to train police and armed forces personnel in India with special attention to the inclusion of subjects about the history, culture and present situation of the indigenous ethnic minorities of North East region of India with a view to fill the large lacuna identified and enhance awareness and education about the region and its peoples among the young generations of India.