An Arunachal Pradesh MLA's son died here after he was allegedly beaten up by some shopkeepers following an altercation sparked by their taunts on his hairstyle, in yet another incident of targeting of people from the north-east.
Nido Tanian, son of Congress MLA and Parliamentary Secretary in Health and Family Welfare Department, Nido Pavitra, died on Thursday, police said.
His relatives alleged that he had an altercation with some shopkeepers in Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi on Wednesday after they made fun of his hairstyle, following which they allegedly thrashed him.
Some locals intervened and the quarrel was stopped after which Tanian came back home. However, his condition suddenly deteriorated on Thursday after which he died under suspicious circumstances, his relatives claimed.
"His postmortem has been carried out in AIIMS. The cause of death would be clear only after the autopsy report. There was some altercation he had on Wednesday, we are investigating the case," a senior police official said.
A youth claiming to be his cousin told a TV channel, "This is surely about racism. Everybody in Delhi discriminates against us based on our looks. We are living in India, but we don't know whether we are actually living in India or not..every time we are discriminated against.
"His family has been informed," he said.
According to Avinash Mishra, Chief Resident Commissioner, Arunchal Pradesh Bhavan, the incident took place on Wednesday when Tanian along with a friend had gone to Lajpat Nagar market to locate a friend's address.
"He asked for directions for at one of the shops there. Some workers of the shop started making fun of his blonde hair. He asked them not to laugh at him but they didn't budge. In a fit of rage, he perhaps hit the shop's counter breaking its glass," he said. After this a scuffle ensued during which he was thrashed by seven-eight people with sticks. He was badly injured as seen in some of the pictures clicked by his friends, Mishra said.
"Following the commotion, police arrived on the spot which got a settlement done. The boy even gave Rs 7000 for the damaged counter. Police then called his uncle, Vinod, and asked him to take Tanian with him. Some of his friends arrived on the spot and took him with them," he said.
They went to a medical store in Safdarjung where they took a tetanus injection and went to his home in Safdarjung. He even took a cup of coffee before retiring to bed.
His friends say that he slept at 1am and even got up once.
"However, he didn't wake up in the morning. He was taken to AIIMs, where he was declared dead," Mishra said.
Arunachal Pradesh MP Takam Sanjoy told a TV channel, "The humiliating discrimination meted out to northeastern students and other people either in Delhi or elsewhere is going to be protested on a large scale.
"North east students' forum in Delhi will be protesting on Saturday and MPs of north east will also be reaching from various camps to Delhi soon," he said.
Sanjoy said the protestors will meet the Prime Minister, Delhi Chief Minister and the Home Minister to ensure that "this type of discrimination does not occur in the future".
There have been incidents of targeting people from the north east, including rape of a BPO employee, in the national capital, leading to protests from outfits representing their cause.