No tolerance of crime against Northeastern citizens: MHA

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P Chidambaram
New Delhi, May 19: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday asked all states and Union Territories (UT) to adopt a 'zero tolerance' policy against all sorts of 'racial profiling and discrimination' faced by citizens of the Northeastern states.

The MHA has advised the states and UTs to adopt stringent measures, including steps against police officers if they fail to take action on the basis of a complaint lodged or other information furnished by a citizen, particularly women, of the Northeast on any cognizable crime. The MHA also said that if the complainant is a Scheduled Tribe (ST) member, then provisions under Section 4 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act would come into play. The section prescribes imprisonment for a non-SC or ST public official who intentionally ignores his duties under the Act. The imprisonment can extend between six months to one year.

The decision also asks for making available toll-free helplines that will provide services in English for many a times, a situation can arise where the complainant fail to communicate in his/her native languages.

The MHA move came following after Dana Sangma and Richard Loitam, two Northeastern students, who recently died in Gurgaon and Bengaluru, respectively. It was alleged that the duo fell victim to racist treatment.

It has been reported that people from the Northeast face discrimination in other parts of the country where they are called by derogatory adjectives or subjected to assault, molestation and other forms of atrocities. It is learnt that such unfair treatment has been a cause of worry and anguish for the people of Northeast.

Saying quick police action would help restore the victim's confidence and act as a deterrent for the perpetrators of crime, the MHA has asked the states to put into place an arrangement under the supervision of the DCPs or SPs, particularly in areas where Northeastern community people reside. They need to meet the community leaders and address various concerns, the advice goes.

Earlier this month, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had hinted at the MHA mulling over issuing such an advisory to the states.

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