As the country continues to combat Coronavirus, a very disturbing and shameful pattern has come into focus. As per an NGO based in New Delhi, Rights and Risk Analysis Group (RRAG), people from the Northeast are increasingly facing racism and discrimination across the rest of the country, amidst the epidemic.
The report titled ‘Coronavirus Pandemic: India’s Mongoloid Looking People Face Upsurge Of Racism’ prepared by the aforementioned NGO has listed 22 cases of racism or hate crimes against such people between February 7 and March 25.
The cases of racial abuse and discrimination against people coming from Northeastern parts of India include being called “Corona”, “Chinese” and other such derogatory terms.
Suhas Chakma of RRAG said, “Apart from being called “Corona”, “Chinese”, “Chinki”, India’s Mongoloid looking people were spat on and called “coronavirus”, forcibly quarantined despite showing no COVID-19 symptoms because of their looks, denied entry into the apartment complex, forced to leave the apartment, threatened with eviction from their apartment, forced to leave a restaurant to make others comfortable, none wanting to share transport with them.”
One of such shocking cases came from Delhi when a Manipuri girl from Delhi’s Vijay Nagar area was spat on by a middle-aged man and shouted at “Corona” before the man fled on his white scooty.
In fact, Delhi, the proud National Capital has been leading from the front when it comes to racist slurs against the people coming from Northeast. RRAG report quoting one such instance, states, “A girl from Shillong, Meghalaya was made to leave an upscale Delhi restaurant to make others comfortable. The helpless girl pleaded that she is not Chinese but from Shillong, which is a part of India. Eventually, the girl left the restaurant crying.”
Meanwhile, the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs, Kiren Rijiju has taken note of this disgusting pattern of racism. He tweeted, “Some incidents of racial remarks against North-East people have emerged in some parts of India in the wake of #Coronavirus due to cultural ignorance, prejudice mindset & lack of understanding.”
Some incidents of racial remarks against North-East people have emerged in some parts of India in the wake of #Coronavirus due to cultural ignorance, prejudice minset & lack of understanding. Matter discussed with NE Division, MHA. Strict advisory is being issued to the States.
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) March 18, 2020
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs too has taken cognizance of such racist slurs and has issued an advisory, reading, “It has come to the notice of the Ministry that people from the northeast have been facing harassment after the occurrence of COVID-19 in the country. There have been cases where people from the northeast, including athletes and sportspersons, have been harassed by linking them to COVID-19. This is racially discriminatory, inconvenient and painful to them.”
While such racial abuse has come into notice amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, it is not really a matter of surprise because otherwise also it is a matter of fact that people from the Northeast do face racist slurs from people in other parts of the country.
A pathetically narrow mindset that has a strange, unexplainable fetish with homogeneousness motivates this kind of racism. What people with such mindset do not understand is that those from the Northeastern states are as Indian as any the people of any other Indian state.
Nationality is not subject to physical appearances and the looks of a person. As a matter of fact, if it comes to Coronavirus, the Northeast has proven to be the most law-abiding and responsible part of India observing the lockdown in its true spirit rather than venturing out mischievously.
It is indeed condemnable how there is a rise in racism amidst the Coronavirus outbreak. Racist slurs again the people coming from the Northeast has taken a turn for the worst. Apathetic, narrow-looking mindset that must undergo a change if this process of alienating the people of Northeast has to be abated.