On 30 April 1999, at 2 am, Jessica Lal was shot dead at an unlicensed bar in New Delhi. Lal, a 34-year-old model at the time, had been working as a barmaid at a party filled with actors, politicians, and other socialites. A little after midnight, the bar had run out of alcohol. At 2 AM, Siddharth Vashisht, known as Manu Sharma, along with some of his friends, Alok Khanna, Amardeep Singh Gill, and Vikas Yadav, asked Lal for some alcohol. Sharma offered to pay Lal 1000 Rupees, but she refused. He then took out a .22 pistol and fired it twice, killing Lal with a bullet in the head.
India has maintained much of its traditional caste system, which separates communities based on the socioeconomic status of the communities’ forefathers. Early 20th century constitutional reforms prevented the kind of medieval discrimination that used to make some castes literally ‘untouchable’. The untouchables were replaced by what are referred to as ‘scheduled tribes’ (STs), ‘scheduled castes’ (SCs) and ‘other backward castes’ (OBCs) that collectively refer to India’s socioeconomically disadvantaged people. Combined, they represent about 85% of India’s population.
The Naga people have been entrenched in a largely violent struggle with the Indian government since the 19th century in an attempt to unify and secure the independence of areas in northeast India that are primarily populated by members of the Naga community. The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN)--the leading Naga rebel group--declared a ceasefire with the Indian government in 1997 in order to begin peace talks, but little progress has been made since that point.