A day after panchayat members in the Munirka village of South Delhi held a meeting at a local temple, rumours spread on Monday among tenants from the Northeast that a decision had been taken to throw them out. This led the the police to intervene and forge a compromise.
The incident comes in the wake of growing violence against the Northeast community including a recent case of sexual assault on a 14-year-old Manipuri girl in the vicinity.
What triggered the controversy was a post on a Facebook page What’s up Darj? “Because of constant racial discrimination issues in Delhi…today [Sunday] the panchayat meeting held at Munirka, New Delhi, agenda for a meeting was eviction of Manipuri tenants including Northeast people,” stated the post. It further stated that the panchayat had already informed all the landlords regarding this issue and they were told to evict tenants within three months.
While enquiries at the Baba Gang Nath Mandir in Munirka confirmed that a panchayat meeting comprising 50 members had indeed taken place, several attempts to contact the members did not elicit any response. Manipuri residents in the area acknowledged that they had heard such rumours but their landlords had not contacted them as yet. Victor (27) from Nagaland said “things are good so far” and he had felt safe in the neighbourhood over the last year that he has lived there.
“While most of the landlords in the area are Jats, about 60 per cent of the tenants are from Manipur, 30 per cent from Nepal and Darjeeling and the rest from other States such as Bihar and Tamil Nadu,” said Bishal Thapa from Darjeeling.
The Facebook post also names people from Darjeeling as targets of the diktat and states that the “next meeting [of the panchayat] will decide on whether they will consider Darjeeling people as reliable tenants or not”.
Following a complaint lodged by activist Binalakshmi Nepram on the issue, the police in Vasant Vihar initiated a meeting that led to a compromise between members of the Northeast community and the panchayat. During the 50-minute interaction, both sides shared their concerns and debated common grounds for reconciliation.
“We have agreed that the panchayat/RWAs will issue a circular on Tuesday which will be pasted in all the mohallas stating that no one from the Northeast will be discriminated against and it will specify phone numbers for grievance redress,” said Ms. Nepram. “We have also agreed to hold regular meetings between the communities and increase police patrol,” she added.