About 200 motorcycle riders Sunday took part in a 14-km rally across the city protesting racial discrimination against people from the northeast and condemning the recent attacks on them in the national capital.
Organised by the Brotherhood of Bulleeters Motorcycling Consortium and the city-based Royal Enfield Riders' Clubs, the "Bikers Against Racial Discrimination" also had women riding the heavy machines.
Men on Royal Enfield, Honda and Duke motorbikes distributed pamphlets along the route to educate people against such discrimination. "Racial discrimination against anyone, especially against northeast people is a cause for concern. It is a blot on our society. As a responsible biking community, we express solidarity with our northeast brothers and sisters," said Ajit Lakshmiratan, a biker from 50+ Bulleteers.
Led by bikers Prem Menon and Lakshmiratan, the riders carried placards with messages like "Racism is Wrong", "Racism has no place in a Democratic Country", "Friends Are Made by Heart, Not by Skin Colour" and "Stop All Violence Against Northeast People".
The rally took off from Town Hall in the city centre and culminated at the BDA complex. "Racial discrimination is a violence we face every day in Bangalore and other cities. Exodus of thousands of northeast people in August 2012 is a grim reminder of the fear we live under. Our struggle is against discrimination and for justice and peace," said Rini Ralte, a professor from Mizoram who lives here.
The initiative was launched after the death of Nido Tania in New Delhi Jan 30, a 19-year-old student from Arunachal Pradesh. "Racism is an everyday reality for most people from the northeast living in Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata and other cities. Many of them migrate to other states for education and jobs. They face insults, sexual harassment, physical violence apart from discrimination at work places and places of residence where they end up paying more for house rent," said Bishwajit Singh Rajkumar, a biker from Manipur.
Lauding the biking community, human rights activist Manohar Elavarthi said police should be sensitised about the northeast people and recruit men and women from the region to make the state police force diverse. Ringo Pebam, a biker from Manipur who works in the city, said: "Northeast people face insults, sexual harassment, physical violence and humiliation on a daily basis. People here know very little about their counterparts in the northeast, their history, culture, food habits and languages." "We demand changes in school and college curricula to include lessons on northeast people so that others are aware about us. The government should educate people about us through mass media and social media," he said.