NORTHEAST, TIBET ALL THE SAME TO COPS

This article was originally publsihed by the Times of India on March 29

New Delhi: 
Citizens from the northeast became targets of what amounted to racial profiling on Wednesday , as cops stopped and questioned any person with "Tibetan features" in a bid to preempt protests during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit.

Reports of harassment came from markets, residential areas and streets. In some cases, citizens were stopped on the street and taken to the police station for questioning.

"Three of us were going to Hauz Khas when our auto was stopped near Humayun's Tomb. When we said we were from Manipur , the cops asked us to show our passports. I am an Indian living in Delhi for four years. Why should I carry my passport? I was made to feel unwelcome in my own country," said a 25-year-old woman who did not wish to be named.

Some employees at eateries in Khan Market were even taken to the police station. "Around a dozen people from north-eastern states who are employed in various eateries and shops in Khan Market were picked up for questioning. Most of them were released immediately after they provided their identification papers. Three girls who did not have any papers on them were taken to the police station, from where they were later released as their employers vouched for their credentials ," said Sanjeev Mehra, Khan Market association president .

Elderly men in auto rickshaws and cars were hauled away by cops. One woman, hailing from Nagaland and working in an eatery in Khan Market described how she managed to report to work. "I live in Majnu ka Tila but was stopped there. At first I managed to leave my house saying I wanted to buy vegetables. I was stopped again near Khan Market but I told the cops to do their duty and let me do mine. But now after the days' work, I am wondering how to go back home," said the 35-yearold .

"The BRICS summit has been accorded top security status . There is a very high threat from Tibetan elements and we are just trying to ensure that no Tibetan national comes to the venue and does an act that embarrasses the nation," said special CP (law and order) Dharmendra Kumar.

Kumar said 84 Tibetan activists were arrested in six hours from the Chinese president's route and the Parliament Street area. In such an atmosphere, Kumar said police had to question and verify the antecedents of a large number of people. " We are just trying to stop any potentially violent act," he said.

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