New Delhi, March 25, 2020:
When it came to light that a Manipur girl had been spat on and called ‘corona’ in North Delhi, near the University campus, it raised a hue-and-cry across the nation.
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Shaikhom Chingkhei, the President of the Manipur Students’ Association in Delhi, which first took stock of the situation, tells us that the crass racism which has raised its head recently, has always existed, albeit in a milder form. Talking to Inside Northeast, he says, “You know, this kind of racism has always existed, even before it made national headlines. I, myself, have been subjected to it. En route to the market yesterday, I was called corona by a small child. That speaks volumes.”
Shaikhom further opines that although foreigners who share the same Mongoloid features are spared because of their “status”, however, Northeast Indians are subjected to crass remarks which are meant to demoralize. “When they see a foreigner from countries like Korea, China, Thailand they are like – oh, it’s a foreigner. However, when they run into one of us from the Northeast, they will not spare us. These are double standards.”
The Manipur student leader has also said that ever since the corona outbreak, suspicion and apprehension regarding people from the Northeast is at an all time-high. “We have not received any official reports, but there several people I know have called me, complaining that they are receiving threats from the landlord to evict. Already we have been facing discrimination, now it has doubled since the corona outbreak”.
Meanwhile, KS Masotmi, President of the Tangkhul Students’ Union in Delhi has said that people from the NE states are now being looked at with scorn and suspicion. He told Inside Northeast, “Many students have returned home amid the outbreak; but tales abound of students from my community who are being stared at on public transport vehicles and called corona, which has become a pejorative term. This kind of crass racism has become rampant now.”
Meanwhile, newly-elected Rajya Sabha member from Assam, Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, perhaps best known for his active role in Assam’s months long agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, has called upon the Home Minister, Amit Shah, to aid in the safe passage of the NE students who are being subjected to racial abuse. I want to draw kind and urgent attention of Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah as well as all the Chief Ministers of North East, that large number of Northeast students living in Delhi , Bangalore,Mumbai and many other cities of the country are facing racial assault and forced to vacate their residential places”, Bhuyan has lamented.
Further calling upon the Chief Ministers of the Northeast to ameliorate their suffering, Bhuyan added, “I will appreciate if Union Home Minister take a appropriate and prompt action to take note of the situation being faced by these citizens in their own country and also request all the Chief Ministers of North East to take up the matter seriously with the Ministry of Home Affairs Govt of India so that a prompt action by Home Minister will create confidence in mind of Northeast people and sense of alienation will be checked.”
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