New Delhi, March 25, 2020:
Delhi Police on Wednesday arrested a man for allagedly spitting at a Manipuri woman and calling her ‘corona’, Indian Express has reported. The incident of racial profiling took place on Sunday around 9:30 PM, at the end of the janata curfew called by the Indian Government.
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The 23-year-old was reportedly returning to her house at Vijay Nagar, when a man stopped her and apparently misbehaved with her. When she fired back, he spat at her and yelled “CORONA” at her. Naturally, the spitting incident took social media by storm. Even Delhi CM Kejriwal took stock of the incident and called for the arrest of the perpetrator. The
Assam Congress leader Pradyut Bordoloi took to his Facebook to condemn the spitting incident and wrote, “On the wings of Corona onslaught, there is a sudden outburst of racial attacks in last couple of days on the boys and girls of the Northeast presently residing in Delhi and in some other places. Hope the saner elements of our civil society rise to quell this menace.”
Earlier, the racial slurs stuck to being called “momos, chowmein” or “Nepali”. Now, because of the pandemic and because of the Mongolian features that the Northeast has, they are called “Coronavirus”. The spitting incident is a reflection of the crass racism that still exists against the Northeast Indian people, it has been said on social media, where images of the shamed girl have gone viral.
There have been reports that they are being teased by calling “corona” at sight, treated differently at shops, etc. Videos condemning such racial attacks on Northeast Indians have been shared on social media.
It may be mentioned here that Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, who hails from Arunachal Pradesh, took note of the grave situation. Rijiju, who must have heard many reports of such incidents taking place across the length and breadth of the nation, recently lashed out at these incidents of casual racism.
Taking to Twitter, the leader wrote, “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.”
Shaikhom Chingkhei, the President of the Manipur Students’ Association in Delhi, which first took stock of the situation, told Inside Northeast 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”.
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