India is a unique example of diversity, in
creed, race, and languages. At the same time there is no shortage of racism
even today. Where people from the Northeast are concerned, this process of
“othering” is as old as their migration to the major cities looking for work
and an opportunity to improve their lives. The discrimination comprises sexual
harassment, violence and even deadly attacks. Delhi should be home to every
Indian but sometime these people feel like illegal aliens in their own home.
As the national capital Delhi attracts the most young people. For people from the Northeast, especially women, running the daily gauntlet of abuse and lewd remarks can be exhausting and frightening. They are easy to spot as they look so different and therefore easy targets.
The journey of my photo essay began three years ago when I started speaking to these people wherever I found them. Gradually, friendships developed and I started photographing their daily lives at home, social interactions and religious ceremonies. I chose Munirka, Humayunpur, Gandhi Vihar, Indra Vihar, and Old Gupta Chowk as my field of work since these are the areas where they mostly reside. This documentation is also an attempt to clear any doubts I might harbour about these people.
hair is my hobby, I do it for my friends and brothers.
Does this make me any less than you?
Ngaranso Hungyo, 28, from Nagaland.
“Yes, that’s us. It’s long time we should start to accept.”
Rev Dr. Mathanmi Zimik, pastor, Tangkhul Church, Delhi.
here in Delhi for more than a decade, you tell me what's my identity here.
Shanti, 30, from Manipur.
“I am fine.” You don’t look fine. “Then stop looking”
Licha Rinya, 22, from Arunachal Pradesh.
“But like I said, my face is no stamp of my character.”
Vandana Borkataky, 28, and Sumi Lyndoh, 27 from Meghalaya.
The stakes are high, so are the conditions.
Every Northeasterner in Delhi.
As it is Delhi is not safe for women and our girls are considered easy prey.
Bruce K Thangkhal, Northeast Support Centre & Helpline, Delhi
“This city isn’t home, the people make sure it doesn’t feel like it.”
Aishanya Sharma, 24, from Assam.
“They laugh at us and call us names, little do they know we are all the same.”
(L) Addon, 31 and Grace, 27 from Sikkim and West Bengal respectively.
“It is not racial slurs thrown at me that bothers me, but the racial discrimination in educational institutes.”
Rinsophy Chomroy, 26, from Manipur
“Four years and the streets still feel like a stage. Eyes, everywhere.”
Julian Ningshen, 21, from Nagaland.
“Yes, I’m different, does it mean I'm not ‘Indian’?”
Sam Yengkhom, 30, from Manipur.
“We are tribals, proud of our identity. Why should we hide it if others are racist?”
Sorinthan Haorei, president, Tangkhul Katamnao Long, Delhi