'Police missed the spark that

H T Sangliana,

Vice-Chairperson, National Commission for Minorities and former City police
commissioner

Former MP from Bangalore and a Mizo, H T Sangliana, spoke to Aditya
Bharadwaj on the unprecedented
exodus of North-Easterners from the City to their home states.

Excerpts:

How do you analyse the recent
exodus of North-East migrants from the City?
The exodus can be mainly attributed to irresponsible rumour-mongering by miscreants on either side, the apathy of the police force and the resultant fear psychosis among the community. It is very unfortunate for a city as cosmopolitan as Bangalore to witness this. I have given my prime (of life) to this State and the City, and I have never felt there is a racial bias against the community, ever.
The exodus can be largely attributed to social networking sites and new technology that have made it easy for spreading such rumours.

As a former police commissioner of the City do you see an organised pattern in the incidents
reported?
No... as far as the incidents on the ground go, I see no pattern or any organised syndicate or organisation carrying out these attacks in a systematic way. If that were to be true, it would have gone out of control by now. All these are stray incidents. As baseless messages have been circulating among the North-East community, likewise messages and MMSes inciting violence and hatred against the community are being circulated in the other community, too. It is these lumpen elements who are creating this situation.

Do you feel the response of the City police was adequate?
Sadly, our police force has become unresponsive, lax and the most inaccessible to the community. As some of them reported on these stray incidents in the beginning, the police weren’t responsive and they did not take action as they were non-cognisable.
Even as the exodus began, the police top brass and the government have been dismissing all reports of violence and intimidation as rumours. But, as I said, the police were unresponsive in the beginning, and as the situation went out of their control, they dismissed everything as rumours.
Leo Tolstoy has said in one of his novels: “A spark neglected burns the house.” The police have been repeating the same folly.

There has been a serious trust deficit between the police and the North-East community. How do you think we can bridge this gap?
There is a problem in this area. The North-East community is very docile and mind their own business and fear going to the police. They also have a communication problem. But yes, the community needs to co-operate with the establishment for their own good.

What would you like to tell the North-East community in the City?

There has been an unfounded fear psychosis in the community. Even some of my nieces have left the City for their home state, not heeding my advice. Such is the fear that a multitude of factors have been created. But I appeal to the community to not leave the City where they have come to make a living. The government has now assured (people) of heightened security and also the Central forces have come down. The police have also become responsive and the City is with us. But I advise you to be careful and not make yourselves vulnerable till the tension subsides.

It is not right to portray the incident in a way that two minority communities are pitted against each other. One should understand that even the violence in Assam isn’t a communal one, but a struggle of the Bodos for a long-cherished statehood. The communal politics of the country is trying to make it out to be a larger Hindu-Muslim issue. But we should not fall prey to these divisive politics.

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