The North East community is hard at work and they speak up on their fears and their resolve to move forward.
Racial discrimination against people hailing from the North East in metropolitan cities is not a new occurrence. From being ragged and bullied extensively, to being beaten up and not even being paid, they face innumerable such instances on a daily basis. Most recently, a youngster hailing from Mizoram was beaten up by his landlord in the city. Albeit, this was a stray incident, we spoke to a few youngsters who hail from the region about their fears living in namma ooru, and how they have moved forward. Being a large part of the service industry, these hard working youngsters share their stories.
Among their biggest fears, is the constant discrimination they have to fight against. “From being called a ‘chinki’ to being asked if I can make momos, I think I’ve witnessed every kind of attack,” says Amorette, a manager at a restaurant in the city. “I have not been paid my salary and when I asked my previous employer for it, he asked me for my employment letter as proof that I worked there,” she recalls angrily.
Helping people who have faced problems in the city, Rini Ralte, the founder of the North East Solidarity NGO in the city says, “What people fail to understand is that like everybody else, we are only here to work and earn a living for ourselves, for our own survival. 95 per cent of Indians hailing from the North East aren’t treated as equal and don’t get the same privileges as people hailing from any other state in our city. From not getting paid, to getting beaten and sexualised, we face the brunt of racism on an everyday basis.”
And the general unease stems from being alone in the city to eke a living as well. Saimee John, an IT professional, says, “When I tell people I’m from Manipur, they are surprised and respond ‘par tu toh chinki nahi lagti’ (but you don’t look chinki) and seem to have a problem with it. They used to say things like ‘oh, so now make us momos and noodles’, but I got tired of racist comments like that. Now, I have also started giving it back.”
It’s not just girls who face such situations, even men from the Seven Sister States have faced equally angst-filled situations. “People often think I am a Nepali, and are under the impression that I know karate or Kung-fu, so I have been asked by a number of people to teach them,” laughs Agustyn Marzo, a student who hails from Mizoram.