COVID-19: Racial attacks against Northeast people rises

Coronavirus outbreak has increased racial attacks on people from the Northeast: NGO report

Passengers undergo a thermal screening test in the wake of novel coronavirus scare at Dimapur airport in Nagaland. (Representative image/PTI Photo)

The people in the Northeast are increasingly facing racism and discrimination in the rest of the country since the outbreak of the coronavirus, says a report by Rights and Risk Analysis Group (RRAG), a New Delhi-based rights group.

The report, 'Coronavirus Pandemic: India’s Mongoloid Looking People Face Upsurge Of Racism' released on Thursday cited at least 22 cases of racial discrimination or hate crimes against such people between February 7 and March 25. 

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“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," said Suhas Chakma of RRAG.

These acts of racism and racial discrimination have taken place in upscale restaurants and campuses of prestigious institutions like the Kirori Mal College of Delhi University, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), an institution of the Government of India, which prepares the school syllabus for students up to Class XII under the Central Board of Secondary Education. The incidents had taken place across the length and breadth of the country in places such as Gujarat, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, West Bengal and Maharashtra, showing that prejudice, acts of racism and racial discrimination are not confined to particular areas.

Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases, deaths on March 26

Among the 22 cases, the report highlighted four such alleged racial attacks:

*An M-Phil scholar from Manipur was spat on and called ‘coronavirus’ in New Delhi on March 22 night. The 25-year-old  woman was going to her home in Vijaynagar after buying grocery from the local market. A man in his early 50s passed lewd comments on her and when she objected, he spat on her and managed to escape after shouting “Corona”. 

"Nine Naga youths were forced to undergo 24-hours quarantine in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on March 20 despite showing no symptoms, because of their physical features. The Naga youths working in an insurance company's call centre had to spend the night in a government quarantine facility meant for suspected coronavirus infected persons allegedly because of their Mongoloid looks. They had no physical symptoms of the disease, no foreign travel history or no apparent contact with any laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient. 

Also Read: Coronavirus: MHA asks states to take action against those harassing people from Northeast

"A 74-year-old cancer patient and his daughter were denied entry into an apartment complex in Mumbai as neighbours suspected them to be Chinese. The man has been a frequent visitor to Mumbai for his cancer treatment and has been staying at the society for the last three months. However, on March 16, the security guard did not allow him and his daughter to enter the society alleging that they might be infected with the virus. 

"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." 

The MHA on March 21 issued an advisory to all states/UTs to act against such racial attacks but Chakma said the advisory was not enough as there was no law against racism and racial discrimination in the country.

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