The skies were filled with the clouds of racism when the students of Christ University, Bannerghetta Road campus decided to hold a protest against Hemanth Kumar, a local landlord and lawyer. Why? Higio Guntey, a second year student from Arunachal Pradesh is your answer. Ever since I heard Higio’s story, I kept wondering what must be running through Hemanth Kumar’s head when he chose to beat Higio for using water. An educated drunkard conserving water or just preconceived notions which used alcohol as a catalyst? When I spoke to Guntey, he told me that this was the first time Kumar did something like that. Guntey hardly interacted with him before. When chauvinism demands to grace your visage with a shoe and a tongue to go with it, Kaveri cries out to tell you that it’s not the only water dispute the state saw or will see. It becomes a mode of survival and an excuse to embrace the peace and serenity of the inner racist that will always try to flood the minds.
Why does this kind of racism exist on a broader scale?
A few people answered how one of the reasons could be the hostility towards a culture that is foreign. The stereotypes associated becomes the face of it. These were readily in sync with “call girls” and “effeminate men” mostly.
The crowd was pumped. The protest was fired. Awareness ignited. The beggar though sat by the steps observing and wondering. The police refused to give me their opinions on the situation. Obviously! How could they? They had their uniforms of indifference and duty drowning them. However, off record, an inspector as a localite, gave me his insight on why he thinks this prejudice exists. “You know the kind of people who roam around on Brigade Road at night?” Most of the time the features associated with the Northeast parallels that of this “kind of people”.
The marginalisation spurs from an image with a connotation. It doesn’t have anything to do with them personally. It never does and that’s the problem. It is sad that Northeast is considered to be homogeneous whose only purpose of existence is to grow tea and coffee in their states and produce prostitues and low breeders outside their states. A sense of superiority exists against them because of the lack of sensitivity and knowledge. Even while I am writing this, I refer to them collectively as “The Northeast” and not by the name of their tribe or state or just merely individuals because I don’t know how else to go about it. It is important to locate each of them individually and understand them and make others aware. It has got to start from our own space. The security guard. The milkman. The house maid. The aunties next door. The uncles on the top floor. The cobbler. The farmer. Don’t forget your landlord and the landlady though.
Another localite made me realise how prejudices rose from not just which part of the country Guntey belonged to but also the fact that he was a student. There is an immediate association of students with deviance. I would also like to mention here that not everybody is the same. Caps lock it. Underline it. Read it. Reread it. NOT EVERYBODY IS THE SAME. This person also told me that in his opinion a lot of the bias weeds from the inability of people to incorporate people from other cultures they aren’t aware of which leads them to consider their race and culture superior. They watch out for their own interests and the wellbeing of their own children and ostracise others. “It is very economical.”, he said.
What happened to Guntey was in no means something that should happen to anyone, irrespective of their culture. But at the same time it is very important for people to be desensitised on the stereotypes associated to Northeast. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura; each of them need to be mapped out individually. What bothers me the most is how both the officer and the localite were defending their own people and made sure I realised that not all localities are alike. What they failed to realise that this wasn’t about the localites. This was about Guntey, Higio Guntey. This was about the prejudices. This was not directed to any particular community. THIS WAS DIRECTED TO THE ROYAL RACE OF THE RACISTS, THE CHAUVANISTS AND THE PERSONAL ALMA METER!