New Delhi: Lashing out racial abuse faced by northeastern people in major Indian cities, Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla says he himself was a victim of such slurs in various corners of the country.
"Racial abuse is the worst thing in this country. I have faced it myself a lot of times. These are foolish people who do not know their own country," the 74-year-old Chief Minister told IANS in an interview .
"In a reception some 20-25 years ago, one gentleman said to me 'You don't look like an Indian' to which I replied?: 'Tell me in one sentence what does an Indian look like?' "
The five-time Chief Minister said it is not only the common people but politicians at the national level -- cutting across party lines -- who do not have a basic idea of India.
"Even the national leadership, be it the BJP or the Congress or any other political party, if you do not know your own country, how can you be a leader?"
"Many of these national leaders do not know about their own country, which is very, very foolish. It speaks about the lack of education and patriotism. It also speaks about their feeling of having a superior mentality," he added.
The Congress veteran further said such abuses and step-motherly treatment towards the people of a particular region gives birth to regionalism and secessionism.
"They don't even know that India is populated by at least three major races of the world. Recently someone from Madhya Pradesh said the Dravidians (South Indian) people are very black, they don't realise that Northern India is populated by Aryans and in the North East it is the Mongoloid people. Besides, there are many aboriginal tribes in our country."
"That is why in the northeast, this regionalism is very high. (Feelings of) Secessionism (sic) is very high because we are not accepted outside the northeast. This is how so-called Indian people treat us," he added.
Despite various efforts of the central government, including steps like setting up of North East Cells, racial attacks on people from the region, especially students and women, just won't die down.
In 2014, Nido Tania, a student from Arunachal Pradesh, died in Delhi in a racial brawl, forcing the government to set up the M.P. Bezbaruah-led committee to gather information on issues raised by people from northeast India who are living elsewhere in India, especially in the metros.
Recently, a student from Arunachal Pradesh in Bengaluru, Higio Gungtey, faced a racial attack by his landlord. The landlord assaulted him for over 90 minutes and made racial remarks.