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Bezbaruah Committee

Context

The Ministry of Home Affairs had constituted a Committee under the chairmanship of Shri M.P Bezbaruah, retired IAS and member of the North Eastern Council to look into the various concerns of the citizens hailing from the North Eastern States who are living in different parts of the country and to suggest suitable remedial measure including legal measure which could be taken up by the Government.

Background

 In January 2014, Arunanchal Student Nido Tania- asked for address in Delhi, was mocked for his look and hairstyle. Fight breaks out, he is killed. On this background, report gives the grim picture of the nature and extent of discrimination and attacks against the North East community. It provides a comprehensive list of short-term and long-term measures that must be taken by the government to counter discrimination against the community.

 In August 2014 committee has recommended some key points such as, reach to NE people by social media, nodal police stations, dedicated public prosecutors, legal awareness, university lectures, victims relief funds, sports promotion in NE. 

The key recommendations:

A. Policing:

• A proposal to add section 153-C to IPC which makes acts causing or likely to cause fear or feeling of insecurity among the community punishable with up to five years’ imprisonment. Another proposed section 509-A provides up to 3 years’ imprisonment for words, gesture or act intended to insult a member of any race.

• Delhi police should recruit 20 police personnel, (10 male – 10 female) each from North East States.

• Police exchange programme has been approved between NE states and metropolitan cities including Delhi. 

• Nodal police stations should be established for the NE peoples, so the police officers can immediately register FIR instead of asking the victims to go to the other police stations.

• North East Special Unit at New Delhi should be activated to address the grievances of the NE people. Other states have been advised to do the same.

B. Maintenance of law and order:

• A panel of 7 lawyers including 5 women lawyers should be constituted by the Delhi State Legal Service Authority (DSLSA) for providing legal assistance to the needy people from the North East. Set up a dedicate panel of lawyers to fight cases for North Eastern victims. 50% of these lawyers should be women.

• The Delhi Government should provide compensation and monetary assistance to the NE people under Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme 2011.

• The Committee strongly suggests the creation of fast-track courts for handling the cases relating to the North East people, particularly those which are racially motivated and involving heinous crimes against the North East women and children. Specially designated public prosecutors should be appointed for cases involving people from the North East. They should also be properly trained and sensitised.

C. New law against discrimination:

• Either a new law should be promulgated as directed by the High Court of Delhi or the Indian Penal Code should be amended. The offence should be cognizable and non-bailable. The investigation of the FIR should be completed in 60 days by a special squad and investigated by a police officer not below the rank of deputy SP or ACP. A special prosecutor should be appointed to handle all such cases of atrocities. And the trial should be completed in 90 days.

D. Awareness:

• A special helpline No. 1093 for NE people is being synchronized with helpline No. 100. Others States are advised to set up special helpline.

• The committee feels that the creation of a special squad supervised by the North East Special Police Unit would go a long way in ensuring speedy justice in criminal cases. The squad could be manned by people specially selected for such purposes and they could be specially trained and sensitised about the problems of people from the North East.

E. Social media:

• The committee recommends legal awareness campaigns in neighborhoods that have a significant presence of members from the North East community. It underlines the role of social media in improving connectivity and communication with the community. A dedicated Facebook page should be created and nodal police officers should be in constant touch with members of the community on WhatsApp.

F. Education:

• In order to educate the people about the North east, Universities have been advised that history of North East and participation in the freedom movement of the country should be taught at graduation level and post graduation level, and for this purpose, curriculum be changed. Legal awareness campaign in the area of Delhi with the significant concentration of north easterners.

 

Other steps:

 

1. Action is being taken by the NCERT with respect to elementary and higher secondary education. The Committee recommends that when the next the NCERT takes place, one, all teacher training institutes be advised to make their syllabus in a way that can sensitise their trainees on the North East and, two, universities and schools outside the North East make projects on North East a mandatory part of the course curricula.

 

2. A special scholarship scheme for students of North East Region ‘Ishan Uday’ has been launched from the academic session 2014-15 providing 10,000 scholarships ranging from Rs. 3,500/- to Rs. 5,000/- per month for studying at under-graduate level in colleges and universities of the country.

 

3. Ministry of DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) being the nodal agency for development of the remote region has also initiated many steps like construction of a hostel at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and four other colleges in Delhi. Rights awareness lectures for the NE freshers students in JNU, DU and other universities.

 

G. Inclusion of cultural spirit:

• Ministries of Culture, Tourism, Information & Broadcasting have also planned to roll out prorgammes for bridging the gap between the peoples of the North-Eastern Region and the rest of the country, including:

1. Chalking out action plan for education the people about the rich cultural heritage of the    North Eastern States and its wider coverage & promotion at the national level.

2. The North East Film Festival & North East Festival to be organized annually at New Delhi, showcasing culture, films, foods, sports etc.

H. Relief:

• Relief fund should be established for helping victims of hate crime, giving money to their relatives to dispose body, travelling from far away parts of NE etc.

I. Bonding power of sports: 

• The committee recommends that the Ministry should take steps to hold regular national and international events in the North East as such events will create greater harmony and better understanding. The ministry should, therefore, review the status of present facilities and make an assessment if they are suitable for such events. If not, such facilities should be created in every state of the North East. Indigenous games of the North East should be promoted.

Way forward

Suitable innovative ways should be devised to integrate each and every aspect of the North East into the consciousness of people outside.  Large migration of students for Higher Education in Delhi and other metro cities has been a prominent feature in recent times. 

One reason for such exodus is the absence of institutions of excellence in the North East. A detailed socio-economic study of the nature of student migration from the North East would be worthwhile as it will provide valuable insight for planning of higher education in the region undermining the overall sustainable development of NE people.

 

 

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