Double Battle: Northeast Fights Both Corona And Racism
Northeast Today|May 2020
Before the first case of the novel corona virus was detected in Northeast India, the people of this region, particularly students, young working men-women staying in Indian metros felt the brunt of the pandemic much early. Surprisingly, it was not this deadly virus, which caused trouble to them, but it was something else, though connected with corona, which brought trouble and trauma to their lives. It is a social disease called racism, which was always there in India since a long time it found its new host among ignorant citizens of the country during the time of corona against the people of Northeast India. Northeast Today writes

On 22nd March, on the day of Janata curfew called by PM Narendra Modi to curb the coronavirus pandemic, when a 25 years old Northeastern woman stepped out of her house in North Delhi's Vijaynagar to get some groceries along with her two friends faced racist attack and had to experience a horrible incident. A man, on white scooty probably chewing paan spat on her when she was on her way to the market and called her ‘Corona’ before fleeing the spot.

As per media reports, the victim while recalling the traumatic incident said, “Hewhizzed past me, and spat the paan on my face and shouted “corona”, and left. It was quite a deliberate attack and I was too shocked to react.” An M Phil student of the Department of English, from Delhi University, had been living in Delhi for over seven years and had never experienced anything like this before, though racial attack on people of Northeast in Delhi is not rare. Delhi police had registered a case and arrested the accused in this matter.

Unfortunately, racial attacks related to corona on Northeast Indians didn’t stop with this single incident. A series ofsuch attack were reported in various parts of the country where people of Northeast India were called, ‘corona virus’ and were harassed, abused and traumatized. Though attack on Northeastern due to their looks is not new in Indian cities, such hate crimes multiplied within short span of time amid the corona pandemic. The Northeast Support Centre and Helpline, which was established in 2007 to assist people from northeastern Indian states, has been inundated with distress calls from across the country during the lockdown period. I get five to six phone calls about racial abuse almost every day, Alana Golmei, who manages the helpline, told to media.

It is worth mentioning here that few days later, after the Delhi incident of March 22, a similar incident took place in Mumbai, where a girl from Northeast faced racial discrimination and was traumatized. She too was spat on allegedly by a biker in Kalina Market area in Mumbai. The National Commission for Women had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident.

A report released on March 26, by Right and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) actually confirms what Northeast Support Centre and Helpline had experienced. It states that in the aftermath of COVID-19 outbreak, there has been massive and unprecedented upsurge of acts of racism and racial discrimination against people from the North East who are settled, working and studying across the length and breadth of the country. The report cites 22 reported cases of racial discrimination or hate crimes since February 7, 2020 to March 25, 2020. Suhas Chakma, director or RRAG told to media that those incidents were just the tip of the iceberg as India’s Mongoloid looking people had been facing discrimination on a daily basis and the same do not make news. Chakma stated, “India has imposed countrywide lock-down from 25.03.2020 to contain the deadly virus, which has been increasingly creating Sinophobia with dire consequences for people who look similar to the Chinese. As the fear and prejudices associated with COVID-19 spreads across the country, India’s Mongoloid looking people are all set to face increased acts of racism and racial discrimination with virtual impunity as there is neither a law nor public rebuke from the key leaders of the government of India against these despicable crimes”.

What Chakma called Sinophobia is so strong among some people that nine Naga youths, just because of their physical features, were forced to undergo 24-hours quarantine in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on March 20 despite showing no symptoms. Though these youths working in an insurance company's call centre had no physical symptoms of the disease, no foreign travel history or no apparent contact with any laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient, still they had to spend the night in a government quarantine facility meant for suspected coronavirus infected persons allegedly because of their Mongoloid looks.

Why this discrimination

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM NORTHEAST TODAYView All

Cultivation Of Oil Palm Is Not Safe For Mizoram

Meet H Lalparthar, a resident of West Plaileng of Mamit district. He has been cultivating oil palm since 2018, with the hope that it will monetarily benefit him. When the Godrej went to meet the growers, they assured them that with 10 oil palms, their earning will be more than those with BA/ MA degrees.

4 mins read
Northeast Today
October 2021

STREET PIANO FESTIVAL HELD IN NAGALAND

The Street Piano Festival, as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM), Kohima Street Carnival was held at Old NST Parking, Kohima on September 29, 2021.

3 mins read
Northeast Today
October 2021

AZADI KA AMRIT MAHOTSAV CELEBRATED IN MEGHALAYA

To commemorate 75 years of India's Independence, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Startup India and PRIME Entrepreneurship Meghalaya celebrated Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav and collectively hosted a 2-hour long physical event at the PRIME Startup Hub in Shillong on September 25, 2021.

2 mins read
Northeast Today
October 2021

BHAWIKA PRADHAN AND JHARNA RAI GOES TO WORLD BODYBUILDING & PHYSIQUE SPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP

The two girls from Sikkim – Bhawika Pradhan and Jharna Rai have made the nation proud with their commendable performance during the 12th edition of the World Bodybuilding & Physique Sports Championship 2021 held at Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan.

3 mins read
Northeast Today
October 2021

SIKKIM HOLDS SECOND FISH-CUM-BAMBOO FAIR

The second Fish Mela-cum-Bamboo fair, which is organised by the Directorate of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry department in collaboration with the National Bamboo Mission, Horticulture department was inaugurated by Sikkim Animal Husbandry minister Lok Nath Sharma, at New Market, Gangtok on October 1, 2021.

2 mins read
Northeast Today
October 2021

TRIPURA HANDLOOMS AND HANDICRAFTS DEMAND HIGH IN INDIA

Handloom and handicraft products of Tripura are some of the most handpicked and vivacious products across India, having a unique aura and significance. The handloom products have elegant designs, unique colour combinations and long-lasting textures. The handloom industry of Tripura is the reflection of the Tribal, Manipuri and Bengali cultures.

3 mins read
Northeast Today
October 2021

Plastic-Free Nagaland

Still an elusive dream

3 mins read
Northeast Today
June 2021

Potential Of Green Leafy Wild Edibles

The North East Slow Food & Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS) is a platform that connects people to the pleasure and importance of local foods and in the process links them to its journey from farm to fork.

3 mins read
Northeast Today
June 2021

REIMAGINING THE ROLE OF INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION

As monsoon approaches and with it, rainfall and the fear for floods and landslides, concerns for the environment will momentarily blossom, and deforestation will be cursed at once again.

3 mins read
Northeast Today
June 2021

RESETTLEMENT OF BRUS IN TRIPURA FACES NGT HURDLE

Resolving the 24-year old ethnic crisis of the Bru (or Reang) refugees by the Centre has brought a smile to the faces of over 30,000 people from the community.

3 mins read
Northeast Today
June 2021