A Manipuri woamn was made fun of her nationality as Indian by a senseless immigration officer at the New Delhi International Airport. She was leaving the country, not entering but the policeman wanted to have "fun" like every one else in "power". He repeatedly asked her to about her "Indian-ness" showcasing the worst side our bureaucracy and the ruthless behaviour of our immigration policemen.
The woman, Monica Khangembam, took to the social media expressing her anguish over the repeated questioning of her nationality within her own country. Here is what she wrote on her facebook that has shocked all the Mongolian-looking Northeast people across the country.
9 July at 09:22·
The bloody racist immigration desk at it again! Looks at my Passport and says, "Indian toh nahi lagti ho". I get that all the time so don’t react much to it but then he goes on, "Pakka Indian ho?" with a smirk. I still don’t react. What really got me was when he said, "See… You yourself need to know your Indianess. How many states are there in India?" The lady at the next counter is giggling. I tell him I am really running late. He goes, "nahi nahi bolo bolo". I helplessly answer him as he is not proceeding with the process. And then he continues, "kaha se ho". I said Manipur and he is like, "so tell me how many states Manipur shares borders with. Name them". I totally lose it and I look away and roll my eyes and don’t answer. And he is still insisting me to answer. This bloody moron has all the time to ask all this. I said I was really getting late and he goes like, "aircraft aapko chodke kahi nahi jaa rahi. Aaram se jawab do". What a bully and never felt so humiliated. It was like it was his mission to make me realise my ‘Indianness’ and he thought he was being funny. I was running late and felt I was giving in to the bully. Spoiled my night.
Is there a way to complain against these bullies?"
While the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj passed on the onus of it to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the question is whether the country’s gatekeepers or the ministers knew fully well about our own people and country’s boundaries? Did NCERT or any of our education system made it compulsory that everybody should know how many states are there in India and their names to pass the test of "CITIZENSHIP"?
No knee-jer reaction please! Merely punishing the man who sits at the Immigration office nor the ACP who sought a complaint before taking action will bring our country the much-need unity we strive to have every day. It is the mindset of the jawans in our Home Ministry which needs to be changed first. They should be made to respect their own countrymen before they can claim that they are gatekeepers of the country. Mere raising patriotic slogans will not be enough. Learn to respect other citizens with respect or else you become instrtumental in tearing this country apart, unknowingly.
Even Home Minister Rajnath Singh who vowed to haunt culprits in JNU row cannot evoke confidence in the current state of affairs in the ministry of Home Affairs. The entire system has a mindset that cannot be changed by mere an outlash or two on Facebook. First the gatekeepers should be made to believe that India has more diversity than unity but for the Constitution that is the binding factor for all.
Secondly, ever since India got Independence from the Britishers in 1947, it has been a long roller-coaster for the nation-builders while the cracks within remained constantly putting the brakes on our efforts. With a deal of loss and expenditure, the northeastern region was made to "feel" part of India (and not China), including Manipur. But the immigration officer who tried repeatedly to bring down her confidence and self-esteem has in turn ignited the litmus test on our gatekeepers, from the immigration clerk (read policeman) to the top.
First of all, the officials in the Home Ministry should get convinced that India includes Manipur and Kashmir. Only then will our efforts in these regions give dividends or else the country remains what it is now, with Kashmir erupting in violence on one side and the northeast region facing bullies in every other corner of the country.