New Delhi: The 19-year-old son of an Arunachal Pradesh Congress legislator died after being beaten up by two shopkeepers following a row over his appearance and clothing, police said on Friday.
The attack on Nido Taniam took place at the crowded Lajpat Nagar I market in south Delhi on Wednesday afternoon. He died in hospital the following day.
The death, dubbed a ‘racial attack’ by activists, caused outrage, with parliamentarians from the north-east deciding to lodge a protest with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday.
The Delhi government ordered a probe into the “murderous assault”.
Police registered a case of murder and arrested the two accused, Farhan and Akram, who are in their 20s and run the Rajasthan Paneer Shop.
The incident began when Taniam, a student of Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, and a friend approached the shop looking for directions.
Farhan and Akram reportedly made fun of Taniam’s hairstyle and clothes. The youngster had coloured his hair blonde and wore red trousers.
It is alleged that the teenagers then became involved in a heated argument with the accused.
Police said Taniam, son of Arunachal Pradesh legislator Nido Pavitra, entered the shop and hit a glass-topped table, shattering it.
Alerted by a shopkeeper, police took Taniam and his friend as well as Farhan and Akram to a police station, where Taniam paid Rs10,000 for breaking the table.
According to Taniam’s relatives, police then dropped Taniam near the shop where another argument broke out. This time, the accused beat Taniam, his cousin told the media.
Deputy Commissioner of Police P. Karunakaran said “a compromise was struck between the youths and the shopkeepers at the police station” and all of them were then allowed to leave.
A relative said Taniam had injuries on his neck and his lip was torn.
His friends took him to the All India Institute of Medical Science where he died on Thursday evening.
Taniam had come to Delhi to meet his elder sister, who studies in Delhi University.
Takam Sanjoy, MP from Arunachal Pradesh, said: “A delegation headed by Rajya Sabha MP Mukut Mithi will meet the prime minister on Saturday and discuss the incident. This type of discrimination in the form of racism won’t be tolerated.
“We will discuss the matter with the home minister too and discuss the way Delhi Police handled the whole incident.”
Minister of State for Minority Affairs Ninong Ering on Friday alleged that police did not file a complaint initially and said there was a compromise reached between the Arunachal Pradesh student and the shopkeepers who assaulted him.
“I went to the police station with chief resident commissioner and other officers,” Ering said. “They said they knew about the incident but obviously they did not expect the boy to die. So, they did not register the case.
“They took the case in a very casual way and said there was a compromise reached between the boy and the shopkeepers.
“I had first gone to the hospital and there was no police personnel there. When I asked the hospital people, they said that they had already taken the body to the mortuary. So, I could not get the details on the condition of the body.”
Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) blamed Delhi Police for the death.
“The way police picked him up and then dropped him at the same spot needs to be looked into,” AAP spokesperson Dilip Pandey said.
Angry students from the north-east in Delhi have threatened a protest on Saturday.