We met him at his residence in Delhi, where he talked to us about his life, the complaints he receives and the action he takes with his team to make Delhi a safer and friendlier place for anyone from the Northeastern states of India.
Please tell us about your journey from a small village in Arunachal to the capital city of Delhi as a top police officer.
I was born and brought up in a small village in Arunachal Pradesh with no pucca roads or electricity. My father was a farmer. I used to go to school on foot for almost 8 kms each day. I studied in Kasturba Gandhi Sewa Ashram, which is not even a formal school. Later, I had the opportunity to study at Delhi University and JNU, two of India’s premier educational institutions. I chose to join the Indian Police Force though I was also chosen for the Indian Administrative Services at the same time. I have received two gold medals from the police force for my services.
I love Badminton, nature and people who work hard for society. I love my work. In my 20 years of service, I only took a holiday last year (a week in Goa). My two daughters have been Delhi Karate champions for four years and now they will be one of the youngest black belts in India. My wife is a dentist. In my free time, which is rare, I love to spend time with nature. On Sundays, I take out time to go to Church.
Please tell us about the emergency helpline no. 1093.
I would say that 1093 is a lifeline for the Northeastern people living in Delhi, because it is run by men and women from the Northeastern states working for the Delhi police. On an average, we receive 10 to 12 calls, but sometimes it is more than 20 calls in a day. Secondly, many people from the Northeast are not fluent in the languages spoken in Delhi like Hindi or Haryanvi . So, when they call up, they always have someone whom they can talk to in their own language, which can be Nagamese, Assamese, or any Northeastern language.
What are the kinds of problems faced by the people from Northeast India?
1093 helpline is not only a helpline for harassments; it has also become a support system for our people. Apart from harassment, rent problems, labor related issues, non action by authorities, eve teasing, and molestation; we get all kinds of calls asking for help. The larger chunk is made up of crimes of course, but we also get inquires on metro routes, PG hostels, college admissions and so on.
What do you think are the causes of the many sorts of discrimination faced?
Unfortunately, our physical features set us apart, and the language barrier creates problems in assimilation. Apart from that, many people who are at the grassroots level, like the ones who drive autos, or ride rickshaws or may be are small time shopkeepers have no idea about the Northeastern part of the world. I often say that for people who have no idea about your place, culture or geographical location, you should not mind minor issues. But yes, if someone takes undue advantage or harasses you, we take strict action against such offenders. And I won’t deny that there are many such reported cases.
What do you have to say about the harassment of Northeastern women?
It is not only Northeastern women per se, though we do get cases of our women being harassed. One problem that I see is that we do not have many people here in Delhi from our region. And once they think that you are a foreigner, and you don’t understand their language, I think that barrier further aggravates the problem.
How do you ensure that people from the Northeast living in Delhi are supported by Delhi Police?
Now, I can tell you very confidently that our helpline 1093 which is run by our NE police men and women in our control room are working 24/7. We have a special branch called North East Police at Nanakpura. We have three PCR vans. We respond to all heinous crimes. We follow up with each case, whether it is registered or not. If there is any accident or unnatural death, we provide physical assistance in the hospitals, jails, courts or in shelter homes. These services are provided by our police. I can confidently say that they are doing an excellent service.
Also, we have our tie ups with different NGOs from the Northeast and we are working along with them. We are massively reaching out to our people through social media. Our facebook page has reached 1 crore 52 lakhs likes in 2 years. And we not only put up crime related information, we put up a gamut of information that will help you to live a smooth life in Delhi like information on jobs or PG hostels.
Also, we have a very specific 24×7 Whatsapp group, which has Delhi North East Lawyer group, Delhi North East Media group, Delhi Women Activists group, Delhi North East Officers group, Delhi Crime Victim group, Delhi Medical Association group and so on. Like that we have very targeted groups. If something happens, we upload it on our Whatsapp group and the concerned group responds to the particular situation. We have blood banks too, like the North East blood bank. This way we have built a huge support system for people from the Northeast.
Any message for the young boys and girls from the Northeast living in Delhi?
Please focus on your studies and work. We are always there to help and support you, whenever you need us. With us, you are never alone in Delhi.
As told to Paromita Bordoloi
This article first appeared in the April 2017 Issue of Eclectic Northeast