HWT Syiem named as member

Centre sets up panel to examine racial attacks on NE people

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at a meeting with MPs from Northeast States in New Delhi on Thursday.Shillong MP Vincent H Pala (second from right) was also present. (PTI)

NEW DELHI: In the wake of continued protests over the spate of attacks on people hailing from the North East, the Union Government on Thursday announced the formation of a committee that will examine the reasons behind such attacks and recommend suitable mechanism to stop racial discrimination against the Northeasterners.
Retired Assam bureaucrat MP Bezbaruah will head the six-member committee that includes former Meghalaya Chief Secretary HWT Syiem and retired IAS officers Allen Temshi Jamir, Tape Bagra and P Bharat Singh as members. S Saha, Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, has been named as member secretary of the panel.
The Central Government notified the committee on Wednesday that is primarily tasked with the job of addressing concerns of the people of Northeast who are working, studying or living in the national capital.
The Chairman of the committee will co-opt members, one each from the other North Eastern States, viz., Tripura, Mizoram and Sikkim as well as one lady member. Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi, Robin Hibu, is a part of the team from the Ministry of Home Affairs that has been ordered to assist the Committee.
According to the notification signed by Ajay Kanoujia, Deputy Secretary, Government of India, the term of reference of the Committee shall be to examine the various kinds of concerns, including the concerns regarding security of the persons hailing from the North Eastern States. Another term of reference is to examine the causes behind the attacks,  violence and discrimination against the people from the North Eastern States.
The Committee will suggest measures to be taken by the Government to address these concerns and also to suggest necessary legal remedies. The Committee shall submit its report within two months, the order said, adding that the Committee will be provided secretarial assistance and other facilities by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
A proactive Robin Hibu on Thursday dispatched letters to all concerned, especially officials and others dealing with the Northeast, to get their views on the volatile subject.
Meanwhile, MPs from all over the Northeast, cutting across party line, sought the intervention of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, on the racial attacks on persons from the Northeast.
The Prime Minister advised the Northeast MPs, including Vincent H Pala who was part of the delegation, to submit their views to the newly-constituted Committee. He also assured all possible steps for protection of persons from the NE region.
“I share your concerns. Indians have a right to live with dignity anywhere in India,” the Prime Minister told the members of the Northeast Forum of Parliament.
“It is deplorable and condemnable. The Home Minister has set up a committee to go into these causes in a systematic manner and prevent them,” the Prime Minister, who is also a member of the Forum, said. Dr. Singh also advised the MPs to ‘work closely’ with the Committee.
Earlier, a delegation of leaders from the Northeast met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was also present at the meeting.
The Centre’s announcement to form the panel came on a day when scores of demonstrators, mostly activists and students from the North East, continued their agitation demanding justice for Nido Tania who was thrashed by shopkeepers at Lajpat Nagar Market in south Delhi, over his appearance and dress. Tania breathed his last on January 30.
The protesters, who have been demonstrating at Jantar Mantar since Sunday, later tried to march towards Parliament House, barely half a km away. But the 300-plus crowd was stopped midway by policemen since Parliament is in session. When the activists and students tried to break through the barricades, they were detained for a few hours.
Hearing about their detention, Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Ninong Ering along with eight MPs from the North East and some other leaders from the region came out to extend their support.
In order to show solidarity with the protesters, seven MPs including Agatha Sangma from Meghalaya, CL Ruala of Mizoram, Thangso Baite and Thokchom Meinya of Manipur and Birendra Prasad Baishya of Assam, then joined the protesters during their march back to Jantar Mantar.
The demonstrators rejected the six-member committee set up by the Union Government to examine the causes behind the attacks and discrimination against the people from the Northeast.
Once at the protest site, the MPs addressed the crowd, who were holding placards and banners demanding justice for Tania. The leaders promised the crowd that their grievances will be heard. (With inputs from Agencies)