New Delhi – The Centre’s bid to allay apprehensions of facing harassment has fallen flat on its face, with authorities in Agra attempting to prevent entry of a group of students of Handique Girls’ College to the Taj Mahal, levelling them as foreigners.
A group of 29 history students from Guwahati-based Handique Girls’ College, were on a college excursion recently to Jaipur, Agra-Mathura, Vrindavan and Delhi to taste India’s historical culture, but what happened at the Taj Mahal gave them a taste of the kind of harassment north easterners face regularly.
When they reached the historic Taj Mahal the students proceeded towards the entry gates after purchasing the tickets, they were stopped and told that they were not Indians. The obvious reason was that they had Mongoloid features, assamtribune.com reported.
When some of the hapless students produced their Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards, they were told those weren’t enough, as a PAN card did not testify whether the person hailed from Assam or not. When the students flanked their college identity cards, the officials said though the college identity cards affirmed that they were from Assam, nowhere on the cards was written that Assam is in India!
A student, who was part of the group said, “Such ludicrous behaviour has left all of us dejected. Questioning our nationality makes us feel like aliens in our own nation.”
The ticket friskers at the gate also engaged in a verbal brawl with the Professor who was leading the entire group and posed illegitimate questions. “They asked us to name the Chief Minister of Assam and where in India, Assam is located, which subjected us to sheer humiliation,” added the student.
The normal cost of an Indian is Rs 20 per ticket, whereas the cost of the same ticket escalates to Rs 800 for a foreigner. Therefore the authorities perhaps tried to indulge in malicious practices.
North easterners in the national capital at times face humiliation and often face uneasy questions about their nationality. A girl from Arunachal Pradesh was humiliated during the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath, when crowds in a gallery where she was seated harassed her, asking how a foreigner (Chinese) was given ticket to sit in a gallery meant for Indians. A section of the crowd reportedly went to the extent of lodging complaints with the authorities, protesting her presence.