NEW DELHI: AS many as 1,068 distress calls were received on the helpline number — 1093 — for people from the Northeast based in the national capital, in 2018, reveals data available with the Delhi Police.The helpline number was opened in 2014 after the murder of Nido Tania, a city-based native of Arunachal Pradesh, with an aim to curbing crimes against people from the Northeast. Since being launched, the helpline has received over 4,500 distress calls.
However, in comparison with 2017, there was a decline of four per cent in the number calls received on the helpline last year. But in January alone, the police received as many as 87 distress calls on the helpline number.Hibu Tamang, Additional Commissioner of Police, Special Police Unit for Northeast region (SPUNER), told this newspaper that in Delhi-NCR, where “around seven lakh people from the northeastern states are currently residing, three calls are made on our toll-free number daily, on an average”.
“These calls don’t always pertain to racist comments or behaviour, but all kinds of crimes against people from the Northeast,” Tamang said.He said that in metropolises like Delhi, discrimination against people from the region “is a big challenge, as people, especially in villages, don’t understand or know the meaning of words such as chinki (a snide reference to the appearance of people from the Northeast). He said even educated persons “try to alienate people from this region”.
“Language is a huge barrier in most of these cases. They are discriminated against for their distinct physical features and appearance. People from Jammu & Kashmir can also register complaints on this number. However, we hardly receive any distress calls from them,” Tamang said.
“If we start dialing the helpline number for being called chinki, the police will be flooded with calls everyday,” 19-year-old Stanzin Dolkar, a student from Ladakh. So, what measures are being taken to curb such incidents and ensure people from the region feel at home in the city? “We have been conducting meetings at colleges, with Residents Welfare Associations and NGOs to spread awareness,” Tamang said, adding “immediate action” was being taken on complaints.