The powerful North East Students Organisation (NESO) has asked the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) to probe the Delhi Golf Club incident where a woman from Meghalaya was asked to leave for wearing a traditional dress.
The students’ body wrote to NCST chairperson Nand Kumar Sai on Monday seeking “severe punishment” for the club.
“We insist the Commission have its own thorough probe in the incident and to severely punish the guilty as per the provisions the law as this has seriously violated the basic ethos of human values,” NESO said.
Though the club had constituted a three-member panel headed by Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal to probe the controversy, the students’ body said the commission should set up a separate inquiry in the interest of justice.
On June 25, Tailin Lyngdoh, a governess, had gone to the Club along with her employer Nivedita Barthakur, after they were invited for lunch by a Club member.
Some 15-20 minutes into the lunch, two Club officials asked Lyngdoh to leave the table and the Club, saying her dress was a “maid’s uniform” and also allegedly hurled racial abuses.
Lyngdoh was attired in a Jainsem, a traditional dress worn by the indigenous Khasi women in Meghalaya.
Terming the incident as “primitive” and a “cruel act” and an “offence to the entire Khasi race”, the NESO said, “This also reflects the mindset and attitude that they have towards the people of the North Eastern region and this can also be termed as ‘ignorance’ at its worst.”
“It is also of concern that an institution which supposedly receives some sort of funding from the government can so blatantly practise discriminatory rules and regulations,” the student’s body stated.
Noting that Lyngdoh was discriminated against because of her attire and her looks and subject to derogatory racial profiling, NESO said that she belongs to the Scheduled Tribe and thus her rights are protected under the laws governing Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes of India.
“The Golf Club management has arrogated the right to insult domestic workers as well as people who its officers and employees deem in their wisdom to look like domestic workers,” the organisation stated.
The letter pointed out that despite the Constitution of India guarantees equal rights to every citizen of India, a person can not be denied her fundamental rights and discriminated against based on her physical appearance, ethnicity or profession.
“There are still preserved enclaves in this country which can deny citizens in the garb of private club rules and regulations, their basic rights as citizens and as human beings,” the letter added.
While reminding the Commission for Scheduled Tribes that the Delhi Golf Club was not an isolated incident, the organisation said, “People from the northeastern states have been facing insults, harassments, intimidations, assaults in different parts of mainland India, which often proved to be fatal even resulting in death just because we dress, look, eat, talk differently.”
Traditional chiefs petitioned the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes urging for an investigation into the club incident, while the Meghalaya State Commission for Women and prominent women organisations jointly wrote to Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijju urging him that the erring management of the elitist club should be taken to task for the affront.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma had urged the Union Home Ministry to file a case against the club for the racial abuse on Lyngdoh.
“All legal options available according to the Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 and more will be taken advantage of so that such behaviour is not repeated,” Sangma said.
Rijiju said he had told the Delhi Police to follow up the case seriously. “Discrimination of any form is not good for India, it must end,” he tweeted.