Stating that people should “cultivate the ability to live together”, the Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the city government to “educate and sensitise” people about the grievances of people from the northeast residing in the capital. Expressing concern over the “disturbing trend” of violence against northeast people, a division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw issued certain directions for the central government, Delhi Police and the city government.
While passing the order, the bench said: “Today, when boundaries between countries and restrictions on movement internationally are disappearing, it is unfortunate that a small cross-section of society is attempting to put up barriers to movement within the country.” The high court ordered trial courts to expedite the hearing of 26 cases pending for 4-5 years and related to harassment of people from the northeast, so that conviction, if any, can act as a deterrent. Taking note of the recent attacks on people from the northeast in the city, the court said it was indicative of a “disturbing trend, which threatens the integrity of the country, of intolerance to movement of people within the country”.
“No native of any state of India can be allowed to, by harassing, offending and by other criminal acts, prevent people from another state to settle and carry on any business or vocation therein,” the court said. “There are bound to be cultural differences between people from different states of India. Such differences are the essence of humanity. The said differences, rather than becoming a sources of hatred or conflict and separating us, should be respected and harnessed to bring a collective strength that can benefit the entire country.” “If this country is to survive and be at peace, each of us has to respect the rights of others and cultivate the ability to live together. Tolerance is a requirement for survival. Mahatma Gandhi said ‘No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive’,” the court said. The bench further asked Delhi Police to identify discrepancies in delay in post-mortem reports and directed it to take steps to ensure that the reports reach the investigating officers immediately when furnished by hospitals. The city government was also directed to expedite the setting up of forensic labs. It also suggested the setting up such labs in hired accommodation. On setting up of separate helpline to prevent offences against northeastern people, Delhi Police was directed to immediately take steps for operationalisation of the helpline within six weeks. The bench also asked the centre to take steps to recruit people from the northeast in Delhi Police and publicise vacancies among all the northeastern states. It said posting of sufficient number of Delhi Police personnel from the northeastern states in the 11 districts of Delhi will increase the level of interaction with the public as well as investigation.
It will go a long way in building confidence in the people from the northeast in Delhi police and also in familiarising police personnel with the people and culture of the northeastern states, the court said in the order. It also asked the central and state governments to give thought to the possibility of bringing legislation for preventing natives of one state from harassing migrants from other states or from indulging in hate crimes against them.
The court asked the legal services authority of the city government to hold workshops to educate residents and sensitise them to the grievances of people from the northeast. The court also asked the governments to undertake a study to determine the cause of such attacks against people from the northeast. It took suo motu cognizance of an incident where Nido Tania, son of Arunachal Pradesh legislator Nido Pavitra, was allegedly beaten up by shopkeepers Jan 29 in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar market following a row over his appearance and clothing. He died of his injuries in a hospital the next day. The court will now hear the matter March 5.