The arrest of a social media content creator from Punjab sparked a Twitter storm by residents of North East India on the weekend demanding that the information about the region be included in textbooks across the country in order to dispel stereotypes.
Their outrage was caused by remarks Paras Singh, a “social media influencer”, made in a YouTube video about Ninong Ering, an MLA of Arunachal Pradesh.
Singh, who runs a Youtube channel called ParasOfficial with over 400,000 subscribers, was irked by the government’s decision to ban the video game Battlegrounds Mobile India. On May 23, he uploaded a video in which he said that Ering, who had recommended the ban, “looked Chinese” and that Arunachal Pradesh seemed to be a part of Chinese territory.
On Thursday, a Special Investigating Team of the Arunachal Pradesh police brought Singh to Itanagar from Ludhiana in Punjab. On Saturday, he was remanded to six days in judicial custody, the Indian Express
In an interview with North East Live news, the superintendent of police Rohit Rajbir Singh said that the Arunachal Pradesh police educated the young man about the history, geography and culture of the region while he was in their custody.
On the weekend, student unions from the North East organised a Twitter campaign to express their dissatisfaction with the level of awareness about the history, geography and culture of the region among many Indians.
Using the hashtags #AchapterforNE and #NorthEastMatter, the tweets tagged the Prime Minister of India’s Office, the National Council for Educational Research and Training, Home Minister Amit Shah, and the Education Minister’s Office. They called for a chapter on the North East to be included in National Council for Educational Research and Training textbooks to combat racial discrimination against people from the North East.
Twitter users focussed attention on the rich history and culture of the various states of the North East. They also emphasised the region’s contributions to India, from its participation in the Independence struggle and the 1962 War to the contribution of its athletes such as Mary Kom, Hima Das and Baichung Bhutia.
On June 5, the National Council for Education Research and Training took to Twitter to share information about a supplementary book titled North East India – People, History and Culture had been published in 2016 to “enhance awareness about North-eastern states”.
In a reply to the tweet, Ering said that the very problem was the North East’s inclusion as a “supplementary” read, which was not an adequate representation of the region. He also tweeted to say that he had written to the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Education Minister about including the North East in central and state board education systems.
Ering’s letter mentions the recommendations of the Bezbaruah Committee, which was set up in 2014 after the murder of 20-year-old Nido Tania, a student in Delhi from Arunachal Pradesh. The committee had recommended stricter punishment for hate crimes against people from the North East. It had also recommended long-term changes in education s ystems to make Indians more aware of the histories and cultures of people of the North East.