Act against those harassing people from Northeast: MHA

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

There have been cases where people, including athletes and sportspersons, from the Northeast have been harassed by linking them to COVID-19. (aCredit: PTI Photo)

Complaints of harassment meted out to people from the Northeast living in rest of the country, following the spread of coronavirus, has now prompted the Centre to direct the states to act tough against such incidents.

A notification issued by the MHA said that there have been cases where people from the Northeastern states, including athletes and other players, have been harassed by linking them with COVID-19.

"This is racially discriminatory, inconvenient and painful for them. It is requested that all law enforcement agencies in your states/Union Territories may soon be sensitised to take appropriate action," it said.

There have also been cases where people from the Northeast with Mongoloid features were suspected to be Chinese nationals and harassed saying they were spreading the coronavirus. 

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The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), an umbrella body of influential students' unions in Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh, on Monday, said reports of violent attacks and racial discrimination against the students and public from the region increased after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. 

"This is the very disheartening considering that the world at large is striving together to restrict the spread of deadly COVID-19. The humiliations they had to undergo apart from the mental distress of staying away from their loved and dear ones, does not augur well for the diverse country that India is," said a statement issued by NESO chairman Samuel B Jyrwa and general secretary Sinam Prakash Singh said.

The students' body asked the Centre to take prompt steps and also requested Chief Ministers of the Northeastern states to actively liaise with their counterparts in other states in order to ensure punishment to those involved in such racial acts. 

Binalakshmi Nepram, a human rights activist from Manipur said they received complaints where students, professionals and others from the Northeast were mocked as Coronavirus and harassed. 

Worried over such incidents, Helping Hands, an NGO led by IPS officer from Arunachal Pradesh, Robin Hibu said they were reaching out to those facing such harassment. He asked such victims to inform him in his number (9810083486) and use Delhi helpine number (1093) in case of such incidents.

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