While people from northeast India are caught in racial discrimination across India amid COVID19 pandemic, retired IAS officer M.P. Bezbaruah has written to the Ministry of DoNER and the North Eastern Council find ways to permanent solution to the problem.

Bezbaruah, who retired as a Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, wrote to the Secretary of DoNER, Inder Jit Singh, expressed concern over the issue of discrimination of racial nature experienced by people of northeast in various parts of the country.

The recurrence of incidents of racial discrimination, like preventing access to essential services and other overt criminal actions, is a matter of grave concern, he said.

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“Such virus of hatred can be poisonous for the nation and has to be eliminated by firm action to punish the guilty quickly,” Bezbaruah, who is the Permanent Representative (Hon.), UN-WTO, said.

Fortunately, MHA has issued strong advisories, he said, adding, “We also feel that strong condemnation and stern warning  by the authorities in print and social media will go a long way to create wider awareness among the people and  prevent the miscreants from indulging in such activities.”

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He requested the Ministry of DoNER, as the nodal Ministry for the northeast, may consider, in consultation with MHA to initiate suitable steps to ensure safety of the people.

Bezbaruah said, the Committee which he had the privilege to chair, had found that the people from the northeast suffer from many special problems in the metropolitan cities.

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“These problems have been aggravated– for a very large number of wage earners, students, services sector employees without permanent jobs– by the unprecedented circumstances following the lockdown,” he said.

The retired IAS officer said the young people from the northeast face problems of access to essential commodities, shortage of cash and the fear of eviction for inability to pay rent.

“The unfortunate suicide by such a person in Agra is a pointer to the gravity of the problem,” he said.

The NGO Helping Hands has been, with the help of generous public and a team of dedicated people are doing yeomen service to provide succor to the affected people, he said.

“But the problems are many and their capacity is limited. As the lockdown may continue, and the problems will multiply,” Bezbaruah said.

He requested the Ministry of DoNER to set up a task force to assess the problems, devise strategy to find solutions and monitor constantly. The Northeast Cell of Delhi Police should also be part of the action plan, he said.

“NGOs like Helping Hands may be involved in both planning and implementation, and may be assigned resources as per DoNER’s overall scheme,” Bezbaruah said.

Some of the available government schemes for the benefit of such needy people may be channelized through such agencies within the norms of and supervision of DoNER, he said.

“The State Bhawans may be entrusted to be the first contact points, organize assistance to the needy,” Bezbaruah, who also served as a Member of the North Eastern Council (NEC), said.

He said the state Houses, with the help of organizations like Helping Hands, may compile feedbacks on problems, which may be furnished to the Task Force for taking urgent action.

While the NCR has the largest Northeast population, problems in some other major cities also need attention, Bezbaruah said.

“It will be good to coordinate with the state governments and also to involve various northeast organizations,” he said.

The retired IAS officer also wrote to K. Moses Chalai, Secretary of the North Eastern Council (NEC), and requested him to set up a Support Cell and create a Helpline number which people in distress can access.

“The Support Cell should be directly linked to the NE Cell of Delhi Police and in other cities,” Bezbaruah said, adding that the Cell should collate all information received from northeast people and identify the problems.

Information received by the Support Cell should be shared with government agencies, NGOs, northeast organizations and State Bhawans, who could provide assistance to the victims, he said.

Bezbaruah said while the NEC could monitor action taken, it should also get approval for some emergency fund for providing relief whenever necessary.

Copies of the letters were also marked to Robin Hibu of  Helping Hands as they are deeply involved in providing help to the people of Northeast in need.

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