The Lok Sabha on Wednesday condemned the attacks and harassment of people from the northeast in various parts of the country in the wake of the killing of a boy from Arunachal Pradesh in Delhi and said a message should go out that they should be protected.
Leading the debate was the Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj who appealed for the protection of citizens from the northeast but surprised many with an unintentional slur.
"A child came from Arunachal Pradesh and they made fun of his hairstyle. We need to understand the diversity of this country, that a teekhi naakwala and chapti naakwala (those with sharp noses and flat noses) all belong to India," said the senior BJP leader.
Swaraj referred to the death of Nido and the harassment of two women in Delhi in the recent past and said people across the country should be sensitised about their counterparts from the northeastern states.
"If Ganga, Yamuna is part of India, so is Brahmaputra," she said.
Swaraj, who spoke amidst continued din over Telangana, said after the riots in Kokrajhar in Assam last year, people from the northeast had to return home from various parts of the country because of harassment.
"Parliament had then issued an appeal to them that India is yours, don't go. We will provide you protection," she said.
Swaraj also took a dig at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, without naming them, saying representatives of the state government and the Centre, which are responsible for providing protection to people, joined the students from the region at their sit-in here.
She said every BJP member would protect people of the northeast living in their neighbourhood.
Congress member Ninong Ering, who represents the Arunachal Pradesh east seat, brought an adjournment motion demanding a discussion on the issue of attacks on the people of northeast, and appealed to the members to work together to provide security to the people of the region.
Ering, who is Minister of State for Minority Affairs and belongs to Arunachal Pradesh, asked the opposition not to politicise the issue and favoured enactment of a strong anti-racial law for the protection of the people of northeast.
"The way people from the northeast were being treated and discriminated against, it is highly condemnable. Such racial discrimination is a very serious matter for the country," he said. He later withdrew his adjournment motion.
Janata Dal-United President Sharad Yadav asked all members to condemn the incidents of attack on the people of the northeast and urged the government to ensure that no discrimination is meted out against the people of the region.
Yadav said it was a matter of country's unity and integrity and demanded a detailed discussion on the issue in the House. "We all should unequivocally condemn the incidents," he said.
Communist Party of India-Marxist member Basudeb Acharia said the recent incidents of attack on the people of northeast were nothing but racial discrimination.
"This has been going on for years together...The situation is very serious. It is a fact that discrimination is meted out to the people of the northeast," he said.
Image: Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj