Kolkata safer than Delhi, say students from northeast
Comments on appearance or the usual questions about whether they are Nepalis are common for students from northeast India who study here in the eastern metropolis.
Despite the slurs, the community feels Kolkata is "much safer" than the national capital where attacks on them are on the rise.
A 29-year-old Manipuri BPO employee was beaten to death in south Delhi's Kotla Mubarakpur area by five youths Monday.
The incident comes six months after 19-year-old Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Tania died after being hit with iron rods and sticks by some men following an altercation with a shopkeeper in a south Delhi market, not far from Kotla Mubarakpur.
Shocked at the escalating violence, heads of student groups have asked members of the community here to "be careful".
"We are not alarmed but we have asked students to be careful. We are definitely shocked with the increasing level of violence in the capital. But Kolkata is much safer that way... it is much more peaceful here," Niangbiaklun Tonsing, vice president of the Manipur Students' Association Kolkata (MASAK), told IANS.
They stay as paying guests or in hostels, primarily in the south and eastern fringes of Kolkata.
Apart from science and humanities courses, they pursue professional degrees like BBA or MBA.
"In 2007, there were around 200 students from Manipur. Now it is over 500. More and more people from other northeastern states are also coming in," Tonsing said.
Most of them are used to words such as "You are chinky" and questions like "Are you from Nepal?"
"We do not react. Words such as 'chinky' or 'Nepali' are repeatedly ascribed to us. There is no physical violence as such... it is mostly teasing that goes on. We just ignore them. Kolkata has also become more tolerant," Alex, a member of the Mizoram Students' Association in Kolkata, told IANS.
Alex said there are not more than 200 Mizos studying here.
Notwithstanding the relatively calm atmosphere that prevails here, security concerns remain.
"We have been told by police that they will provide a helpline number.
"Apart from that, there is no other avenue for help. We keep in touch with others from our community and check up if they need help," Ikotho Yeptho, who hails from Nagaland and acts as an advisor to the Naga Students' Union Kolkata, told IANS.
Yeptho said more than 800 people from Nagaland are enrolled in various colleges or are working in the IT or hospitality sector here.
(Posted on 23-07-2014)