Tiapong Tzudir with his friends from university putting up posters against racial discrimination in Mumbai.
Morung Express News
Kohima | February 28
Racial discrimination against northeast people is a perennial crisis, which hasn’t been taken seriously for address by concerned authorities despite reports of attacks, assaults, violence and even loss of precious lives over the years.
Twenty-four year old Tiapong Tzudir became the latest victim of racial discrimination on the night of February 26. Tzudir from Changki village is also a well known You Tuber popularly known as ‘Yatra Kid.’ Currently, he is doing his Masters in Sociology at the University of Mumbai and stays in the hostel inside the campus itself.
Narrating the incident to The Morung Express, Tzudir said that on that particular night, as he was on his way outside the campus for dinner after Sunday Service; some young men numbering 5-7 started calling him names and threw water over him, which missed and landed on his hands.
Though this isn’t the first time he has been a victim of such racial discrimination, he described this incident as one of the ‘harsh ones.’
Ignoring it as something ‘normal’ he just walked off. However, on his way back he got a little anxious and on an instinct, he turned on his phone camera, and as soon as they saw him “they started calling names and threw water balloons.”
“Even if I wanted to do something, I know I would be overpowered and get bashed,” said Tzudir adding that he also shouted back at them.
He went back to the hostel and came back with some friends, however, the miscreants had fled the scene after seeing them.
The next day, with some fellow Northeast friends from the University, they started to put up posters at the scene where he was harassed, which was taken down by the locals. “I am here to fight back the racism with peaceful means and by educating them of the consequences and of our region,” said the young student.
With the help of community leaders, Tzudir said the perpetrators were identified from the video he had captured, and called for meeting later that night with their parents; however, the perpetrators didn’t turn up.
While appreciating the community leaders for their help and support, he however observed that the locals were trying to help each other to get away with a problem like this. “They are not taking it seriously,” he added.
Later, on the suggestion of the community leaders, Tzudir filed FIR, which he didn’t want to do initially considering the hassle in the process of taking it legally.
“I didn’t want to do initially, but the situation escalated a little differently, and I started realising that if not me then who, as there are many people who go through the same thing. Today, it is me tomorrow it could be someone who cannot speak up,” he said.
When queried how the Police is taking up the case, Tzudir said they are just going to give a warning besides rounding up the area. “I don’t expect much either” he honestly stated.
Sharing the incident on social media, he stated “I am sharing this because I want everyone to be aware of how people in our own country get harassed and disturbed.”
Normalising racial discrimination
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were several reports of Northeast people being stigmatised.
However, Tzudir said “cases of racial discrimination have not reduced; it’s just that we have normalised it by ignoring and no one is talking about it.”
Stating that racial discrimination is something very complex to understand, he maintained “we shouldn’t normalise it. This is something which a lot of people from our region are normalising.”
Although someone who believes in the idea of “redemption, forgiving and teaching them in the right way,” Tzudir said, “we should understand that not everyone is willing to learn.” “This is something which is so internalised within themselves -their upbringing, socialisation etc it turned into a kind of phobia,” he said.
He further observed that most of the perpetrators of racial discrimination are uneducated and not aware of the geographical regions of the north east, and proposed educating in larger scale through national platforms.