Nido Taniam, a 19-year-old from northern India, was beaten to death last Tuesday in New Delhi on the basis that he ‘looked Chinese’. Tania hailed from a part of northeastern India nestled along the borders of both China and Myanmar, where residents’ ‘Asian’ features have allegedly led to discrimination.
Last Tuesday, Taniam was on holiday in New Delhi and on his way to visit a friend in southeastern Delhi suburb of Lajpat Nagar when he walked into a local dairy shop to ask for directions. According to reports, he received taunts about not knowing his way around, and shopkeepers and others made fun of his appearance, asking him: “Are you from China?”
This summary of what happened next comes from a report by the South China Morning Post:
“Taniam smashed a glass display case in anger after being taunted, prompting the shopkeeper and several other men from the market to set upon him and a friend. The shopkeepers called the police, who got Taniam to pay about US$120 for the broken glass. The police did not take any action against the assailants, [Arunachal Pradesh state official Geetartha] Barua said.
Police officers let Taniam go, but when he passed the shop a second time the attackers beat him again, said Jotam Toko Tagam, the former president of a New Delhi organisation for students from Arunachal Pradesh. When he reached his sister’s flat, where he was staying, he complained of pain and was bleeding from his wrist. He fell asleep early on Thursday morning after applying balms across his body, Tagam said. Around 1pm the next day, friends tried to wake him but found his body cold and limp. Brought to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival, Barua said.
Tania was the son of a member of Arunachal Pradesh’s state assembly from the nationally ruling Congress Party.
The Delhi police have been accused of negligence to the case for their delayed response in opening up a murder investigation – according to reports, the investigation wasn’t opened until 24 hours after Taniam’s death, and by that point news agencies had already begun reporting the incident. As early as Saturday, protesters began to gather around a police station in Lajpat Nagar, close to where the incident occurred. Among the crowds of protesters one can see posters including such slogans as “Hang the culprits” and “Why are we treated like outsiders?”
According to a report made by the Times of India, no arrests were made until Sunday; police stated that they “were waiting for medical reports before taking further action and speaking to Nido’s family to piece together the sequence of events.”
Vijay Goel, the Delhi President for India’s second-largest political party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), made the following statement at Raj Ghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi located in Delhi, while staging a dharna (a form of hunger strike): “”There is an urgent need to set up helplines at district level as students from north eastern state often get harassed. The authorities need to be sensitised to react quickly to complaints and to take preventive steps to check harassment to people from north eastern states and especially students.”
By Alex Stevens
[Image via The Hindu]