Forced to report absent for duty
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]nstances of how alien the northeast is from the rest of the country never ceases to surprise. From racial comments of ‘chinky eyes’ and ‘snub nose’ to ‘momos’ to being clubbed to death and its women propositioned by lewd men on the streets …what really takes the cake is news that a hotel where PM Modi was to meet the Chinese President Xi Jinping asked its staff from the northeast not to report for duty.
Now it appears that the Union Home Ministry has asked for a report on the veracity of the news. In what comes across as a very lame excuse there are suggestions that the hotel acted on the concerns of the city police that Tibetan protestors could sneak in disguised as employees and place the Chinese delegation at risk.
Surely the people in charge of security would provide a level of security worthy for leaders of two of the world’s emerging power centers and that they were not setting a scene for a ‘martial’ arts film where the villain or the hero would disguise himself in a waiter’s attire to attack his target !! Such piece of news, if the excuse proves to be true will be highly embarrassing for the Indian security system.On the other hand either way the incident has only reinforced belief that integrating the northeast region with the rest of India is literally many ‘faces’ (pun intended) away. For starters the men in the PM’s security better know that while a sizeable population of Tibetans live in the northeast ( in fact the first ever refugee camp was opened in Bhalukpong, in Arunachal Pradesh) the Tibetan political statement for a ‘free Tibet’ has no base in the region. This could be because the region itself has so many of its own internal demons to deal with and one, common sense, that of alienation with the rest of country. In fact, the staff form the northeast should have been the first to be taken into confidence by the management if such fears existed and they would have been alerted. Tibetans anyway have a distinct physical appearance as do all people from the eight states in the region …but differentiating one from the other would prove a nightmare for the security.
Conversely one would have thought the Gujarat government would have ‘cashed’ in on the unique opportunity of having people from the northeast serve the two leaders. This would have made the Chinese President feel very at home on seeing some familiar Mongolian, amid the sea of Aryan heads. Instead by removing the hotel staff from the northeast during a visit that merited world news, racial discrimination in India can now be deemed allowed officially. What a slur.