Student Who Was Allegedly Beaten To Death After Being Taunted For His Hairstyle Sparks Racism Debate In India

The hashtag #KilledByRacism trended in India after Nido Taniam, a student from Northeast India, died in Delhi after an alleged beating by shopkeepers who taunted him about his hairstyle.

Nido Taniam, the 18-year-old son of a local politician from the Northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, died on Thursday, Jan. 30 after being allegedly beaten by a mob in Delhi due to an altercation during which he was teased about his hairstyle.

Family, friends and activists have alleged that Taniam’s death was the result of racial discrimination directed toward people from Northeast India.

Taniam reportedly visited a crowded spot in Delhi with his friends and was looking for an address when some shopkeepers began mocking him about his hair, which was colored blonde. Relatives claim that the shopkeepers hurled racial slurs at him.

A fight erupted during which Taniam broke the shop’s glass window. A group of six to eight locals then allegedly beat him up with iron rods and sticks.

After the police arrived, they reportedly took Taniam away and settled the dispute with by fining the shopkeepers. But they later dropped him off at the same spot of the fight, where he was allegedly beaten up by the men again.

The next day, Taniam’s friend found him unresponsive at home. He was rushed to the hospital and declared dead. His family claims that he died of injuries from the brutal beating.

The initial post-mortem report did not reveal “much injury or aberration.” The autopsy indicated that his death may have been caused due to internal injuries, but sources said this wasn’t conclusive.

The police have detained three people for questioning.

3. Taniam’s death sparked a huge racism debate, highlighting the rest of India’s perception and treatment of people from the Northeast region of the country.

Several cases have been reported of discrimination against young people from the Northeast. The differences in their features compared to a majority of Indians, coupled with the rest of the country’s general ignorance of the Northeast’s geography and culture, often makes them easy targets of ridicule and other forms of racial discrimination.

An article in the Hindu titled “Let’s stop pretending there’s no racism in India,” says:

“Ironically, most Indians see racism as a phenomenon that exists in other countries, particularly in the West, and without fail, see themselves as victims. They do not see themselves harboring (potentially) racist attitudes and behavior towards others whom they see as inferior.

But time and again, various groups of people, particularly from the north-east have experienced forms of racial discrimination and highlighted the practice of racism in India.”

5. Although his death is still under investigation, many Indians, fueled by news channels and activists, took to social media to organize protest marches and vocalize the issue of racial discrimination in the country.

All those who say no racism against the people of North East suffer from ostrich mentality. Accept and deal with it head on. #NidoTaniam

— irfhabib (@S Irfan Habib)

Many killings of young ppl from Northeast #India in #Delhi has been called as"Self-inflicted"such as #Hongray #Reingamphy & now #NidoTaniam

— BinaNepram (@Binalakshmi Nepram)

Nido Taniam's brother speaks. #UglyRacistIndia |

— ShivAroor (@Shiv Aroor)

Outsider in my own country. #RIPNidoTaniam

— BinaNepram (@Binalakshmi Nepram)

10. A Facebook group called “Justice for Nido Tania” created on Friday had over 6,000 likes.

12. The hashtag #KilledByRacism trended on Twitter with several Indians condemning the pervasive racial discrimination in the country.

If Nido Taniam Incident happenned in other country, we would have screamed and outraged about Racism. We are biggest Racists and Hypocrites

— Joydas (@Joy)

Happy to note that @thenewshour will debate on #KilledByRacism on mocked & murder of Arunachal Pradesh student in Delhi. #RIPNidoTania

— northeastblog (@North East India)

India blessed with diverse races, Mongolians, Dravidians, Aryans..and yet we are probably the worst racists! Shock and shame!#KilledByRacism

— ektacapor (@Ekta Kapur)

Unfortunate how student from Arunachal Pradesh was beaten to death in Delhi. Incident proves how racist we Indians are. #KilledByRacism

— prashanthbhat (@Prashanth Bhat)

After 66+ years, a part of our nation is still fighting for independence. Independence from "Racism". I'm ashamed. Are You?? #KilledByRacism

— bhargavshreyans (@Shreyans Bhargava)

Not borders but racism separate Indian states. When will Indians learn to revel in India’s rich diversity?! :( #killedbyracism

— FortuitousTeen (@Prerna ツ)

Just because we look different doesnt mean we have to be treated differently.. #KilledByRacism

— Sarijoute (@Sari Zote)

Complete lack of geographical knowledge of a certain class of people in north India is also to be blamed for this #racism #KilledByRacism

— Manashree_ (@Manashree)

Mocked, thrashed and then lynched to death, another youth from Northeast falls victim to racial discriminition in Delhi. #KilledByRacism

— manojananda (@Manoj Anand)

Shamed to say Delhi is my country's capital right now #KilledByRacism

— sreedevkkumar (@Sreedev KrishnaKumar)

Racial killing in this day and age? Will we in the national capital tolerate this lynch mob justice? #KilledByRacism #TimesNow

— AdityaRajKaul (@Aditya Raj Kaul)

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact this reporter at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com