Focus to mend mindset of NE women: Rijiju to NCW

Rijiju       NCW head Sharma     Prof Hazarika       Moirangthem

  • ‘Attitudinal change still a dream’

NEW DELHI, July 29:  Underscoring importance of integration for empowerment of people from the NE, Union MoS (I/C) for Youth Affairs & Sports and MoS (Minority Affairs) said that respecting and accepting those from other regions is the key to national integrity.

Addressing a National Commission for Women (NCW) webinar on “Issues and challenges faced by NE women in metropolitan cities & empowering them’, Rijiju said there is a need to look at ways to empower people from NE region through NGOs.

“When the NE region as a whole will do better, people from other parts of the country will come to NE rather than the reverse,” said Rijiju.

“We, the NE people, will have to understand that unless we initiate and open our arms, unless we lay the red carpet for others to come, the Govt’s help (and) the PM’s extraordinary focus on the NE will not lead to any extraordinary change on the ground. Respecting and accepting those from other regions is the key to national integrity,” he said.

Exhorting NCW to fight against the mindset of racial and social discrimination, he said that “Social & racial discrimination is a big issue. I appeal NCW and chairperson Rekha Sharma fight to change the societal mindset of people in a focused manner.”

He also called upon state Govts to play an important role in integration of NE region with better coordination.
Sharma said domestic violence, lack of awareness and education in interior regions are some of the issues confronting NE women.

“We need to create more jobs in the NE, especially in the tourism sector and use this period to train them. In the handicraft sector, we need to give them direction of expanding in metro cities,” she said.

NCW being concerned about the safety of NE women and problems faced by them after migrating to metropolitan cities, conducted this webinar to deliberate on all those issues and remedies, Sharma said and enlisted various initiatives launched by NCW with a dedicated cell for NE working to empower women of the region.  “We have trained young NE girls to be successful entrepreneurs as we want to empower them to be job-givers not seekers,” Sharma added.

The panel deliberated on “prejudices, discrimination & other challenges faced by NE women and “Provisions/strategies/redressal mechanism needed to protect their rights” in breakaway sessions. The discussion also covered in detail the need to impart legal awareness among the NE community for them to know whom to approach in times of distress.

The experts discussed the need for a consolidated data and detailed study to understand the crimes against NE women in metro cities, lauded models, like Special Police Unit for North Eastern Region (SPUNER) and 1093 helpline for NE citizens should be replicated in other metro cities for redressal of grievances.

The panelists discussed the need to bring NE teachings, its geography, culture, polity and history into the curriculum of schools and colleges. The panel highlighted the importance of art to bring awareness about the culture of NE in mass media as it would also help improve the dialogue between NE people and their counterparts in rest of India.

A few suggestions were safety audit of paying guest /rental accommodation for NE students to  have a list of safe places when they come to the city, sensitization and awareness programmes for employers, need to plug gaps in the law so that there is effective implementation of the existing provisions and incubational training for girls/women coming from NE.

Stringent legal provisions in IPC and SC/ST Act to address racial discrimination, implementing recommendations of Bezbaruah Committee in a speedy manner, Hindi language to be taught to address language barrier in metro cities and creation of more women friendly hostels for NE women were some of the suggestions that were kept forward by the panelists.

Pradeep Kumar adds: Though I failed to join due to internet connectivity, but panelist Prof Sanjay Hajarika to embed about NE culture in the system is highly relevant.

As Bezbaruah had noted, the key is to influence the minds of the general populace about the “ethos of NE in the psych of the people outside NE. This can be achieved by amending school curriculum and university syllabus making study of the region mandatory”. Maybe then the cries of complaints that jam the helplines may see a dip and eventually stop”.

Regrettably, there was no mention of India had seen exodus of NE people from many parts of India, particularly the southern states and Maharashtra, the second run for life during August 15-18, 2012, after 1947, because of rumours that they would be attacked as a fallout of the ethnic violence in Assam, and because of provocative SMSes and Facebook campaign launched by Pakistan as proved later by the MoHA.

Due to my insistence, then Chief Minister Nabam Tuki had sent a team led by MP Takam Sanjoy as emissary of Arunachal Pradesh along with Arunachal Bhawan DRC KN Damo and Congress leader Likha Maj to tour Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai to defuse the situation and assist the local administration to bring back normalcy.

Assam CM Tarun Gogoi and leaders of Nagaland and Manipur had invited Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka, who had informed that about 3.5 lakh NE people live in Bangalore, of whom only 25,000 had fled while the rest lived as usual. He had toured NE states to persuade the NE people to return. This has brought to limelight the truth about the contributions of NE people in nation building.

After successful trip to bring back normalcy, Takam Sanjoy team had returned and conducted a meeting of officers of NE states posted at their bhawans in Guwahati. The decision was to set up a network of all students by respective state government studying anywhere in India and all eight NE state student’ leaders to have another network for effective liaisoning in case of emergency. This   was never implemented.

Moreover, a Delhi Police officer was appointed nodal officer for NE people to redress their grievances and Arunachal 1st IPS officer (1993 AGMUT cadre) Robin Hibu was appointed. Hibu deep-rooted in tribal culture, started battling against racism and xenophobia, besides bridging the gap between Delhi and NE India. He had also suggested amendments to the IPC to address racist slurs and attacks, empanelled senior journalists of NE region to educate Delphi Police about the unique culture of NE people, special recruitment of Delhi Police from NE region to set up SPUNER within the Delhi Police. Few Arunachal journalists including myself, empanelled as resource persons, have many times sensitized Delhi Police. I sensitized Rashtrapati Bhawan police on 09.06.18 when Hibu was chief security officer.

In 2016, Hibu  founded a non-profit NGO called ‘Helping Hands; to address distress calls from young men and women from the region suffering exploitation at the hands of employers and middlemen. It includes a network of professionals like lawyers, chartered accountants, from government services and ordinary citizens, including myslef. While life may not be perfect for Northeasterners in the national capital, it’s been made a lot better because of the works of reputed police officers, like Hibu.

Senior coordinator Lilabati Moirangthem played a crucial role while NCW media consultant Nang Tanvi Manpoong, behind this imitative, who linked me to this webinar.

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