Rejecting the contention that students from North East are subjected to discrimination and racial profiling, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said the government will take every step to ensure their security and asked states to do the same.
"The government of India will take every step to ensure their security and I am confident that all state governments will discharge their constitutional responsibilities to ensure the safety and security of all people residing within that state," Chidambaram said in Rajya Sabha.
He was responding to a calling attention notice by Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley in the wake of deaths of two students from North East in Gurgaon, Haryana and Bengaluru.
Jaitley said, "I call the attention of home minister towards issues of racial profiling and discrimination towards students of North East, who go to different parts."
Replying to it, Chidambaram said the state governments were primarily responsible for the prevention of crimes arising out of discrimination, adding, the Centre accorded "highest importance to development of North Eastern region as well as prevention of atrocities against Schedule Tribe and will not countenance discrimination in any form."
Referring to the recent death of Dana Sangma in Gurgaon near Delhi and of Richard Loitum in Bengaluru besides allegations of racial profiling against Tibetans during the recent BRICS summit, he said these have caused disquiet and agitation among the community, specially students from the region.
He said the police is investigating the deaths of both Sangma and Loitam after registering cases and conducting post mortems.
On complaints that many students from north-east were harassed and detained during the recent BRICS Summit in Delhi, Chidambaram said, "Only four people from North East were detained for questioning. When their identity was established, they were let off...no one, including Tibetans, was chargesheeted."
BJP members raised objections over the Home Minister's assertion that only four persons from North-East were detained during the BRICS Summit in Delhi on March 29 and said the number had been under-stated and wanted the minister to conduct a probe into incidents of harassment and action against the erring officials.
At this, Chidambaram said "anecdotal evidence" does not become actual evidence and insisted that the government could not have allowed a protest near the place where heads of state were staying. "We cannot allow a security incident," he said.
Admitting that Delhi Police did detain some Tibetans and their supporters as there was an apprehension that the Tibetan groups would disrupt the Summit, Chidambaram stressed that the police have "categorically stated that there was no racial profiling."
"During the checking process some Indians, including a few from the north-eastern states were also detained for a short while and let off as soon as their identities were confirmed," he said.
On a specific question seeking relaxation of inner-line permit regulations in north-eastern states, the home minister said these have been relaxed in many of these states but added that a balance has to be maintained between security and promotion of tourism
"I cannot say inner-line permits will be removed from all north eastern states," he said.
Chidambaram said the state governments were primarily responsible for prevention of crime arising out of discrimination.
He said the Centre accorded "highest importance to development of north-eastern region as well as prevention of atrocities against Schedule Tribe and will not countenance discrimination in any form."
Referring to the recent death of Dana Sangma in Gurgaon near Delhi and of Richard Loitum in Bengaluru besides allegations of racial profiling against Tibetans during the recent BRICS summit, he said these have caused disquiet and agitation among the community, especially students from the region.
Stressing that students from the region have right to security and peace and they are "free to travel and reside in any part of the country," Chidambaram said it was not correct that the students from the north-eastern states in Delhi were more vulnerable as compared to students from other regions.
He said while the exact number students from north-east was not available a number of them resided in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune to take advantage of the vast opportunities available in other parts of the country and "it is their right to do so."
"I have no numbers of students from NE studying in other parts. It should not be collected as it would amount to racial profiling also," he said.
He said he welcomed mingling of students from north-east region in rest of India and assured them all help.
Elaborating the steps to address the problems faced by students from north-east, Chidambaram said DCP-level officers have been designated as nodal officers to specifically address their problems.
"Besides, a north-east connect cell, headed by a joint secretary-level officer has been formed...to serve as a coordination point with resident commissioners of 8 north-eastern states," he added.