New Delhi, Jan 31: A 19-year-old son of an Arunachal Pradesh Congress legislator died here after being beaten up by two shopkeepers following a row over his appearance and clothing, police said Friday. Activists and people from the northeast termed it a “racial attack” while the region’s parliamentarians said they will take up the matter with the prime minister.
The brutal attack on Nido Taniam took place at the crowded Lajpat Nagar I market in south Delhi Wednesday afternoon, leading to internal and other injuries that caused his death in a hospital Thursday.
The incident, termed a “racial attack” by activists, was widely condemned by various parties while MPs from the northeast will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue Saturday. The Delhi government ordered a probe into the “murderous assault”.
Police registered a case of murder and nabbed the two accused, Farhan and Akram, who are in their 20s and run the Rajasthan Paneer Shop. Police said they were questioning the duo to get to the bottom of the matter.
It all began when Taniam, a student of Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, and his friend approached the shop seeking directions.
Farhan and Akram reportedly made fun of Taniam’s hairstyle and clothes. The youngster had coloured his hair blonde and wore red trousers.
The Arunachal teens protested against the comments, leading to heated arguments with Farhan and Akram.
Police said the furious Taniam, son of Arunachal Pradesh legislator Nido Pavitra, entered the shop and hit a glass-topped table, shattering it.
Alerted by a shopkeeper, police took Taniam and his friend as well as Farhan and Akram to police station where Taniam paid Rs.10,000 for breaking the table.
Deputy Commissioner of Police P. Karunakaran said “a compromise was struck between the youths and the shopkeepers at the police station” and all of them were then allowed to leave.
According to Taniam’s relatives, police then dropped Taniam near the shop where another argument broke out.
This time, the accused thrashed Taniam, his cousin told the media.
A relative said Taniam had injuries on his neck and his lip was torn. His friends took him to the All India Institute of Medical Science where he died Thursday evening.
The incident came to light Friday.
Taniam had come to Delhi to meet his elder sister who studies in Delhi University.
The incident triggered outrage.
Takam Sanjoy, MP from Arunachal Pradesh, said: “A delegation headed by Rajya Sabha MP Mukut Mithi will meet the prime minister Saturday and discuss the incident.
“This type of discrimination in the form of racism won’t be tolerated. We will discuss the matter with the home minister too and discuss the way Delhi Police handled the whole incident,” he added.
“I am shocked to learn that the police delayed in registering the FIR and did not arrest the culprits even 48 hours after the incident,” Sanjoy said from Itanagar.
The incident triggered reactions ranging from shock to anger in people, especially youth, in the northeast.
Terming it yet another incident of blatant racism, people of the region spoke out against widescale discrimination meted out to hapless youngsters going to the national capital every year looking for better opportunities for education and career.
Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) blamed Delhi Police for the death.
“The way police picked him up and then dropped him at the same spot needs to be looked into,” AAP spokesperson Dilip Pandey said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also condemned the attack.
BJP MP Tarun Vijay met Delhi Commissioner of Police B.S. Bassi to express his concern over the incident and demand action against policemen, saying they “tried to have an unjustifiable compromise with shopkeepers”.
He also alleged that policemen did not take the boy to the hospital.
Vijay, who was accompanied by students from Arunachal Pradesh, said Delhi was becoming increasingly unsafe for the youth from the north east.
Angry students from the northeast in Delhi have threatened a protest Saturday.