External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj promised late on Sunday to look into the alleged harassment and racism faced by a Manipuri woman at the immigration desk at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.
The action came after Monika Khangembam alleged on Saturday that an immigration official asked her a series of offensive questions in an apparent bid to ascertain her “Indianness”.
The incident triggered widespread condemnation on social media. Hours later, Swaraj tweeted that she would speak to cabinet colleague and home minister Rajnath Singh to sensitise immigration officials.
I will speak to my senior colleague Shri @rajnathsingh ji to sensitise Immigration officials at the airport./2— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 10, 2016
On Saturday, Khangembam wrote on her Facebook wall that when she went to the immigration desk at hte IGI around 9pm, an official looked at her passport and said, “Indian toh nahi lagti ho” (you don’t look Indian).
He then allegedly smirked at her and asked her how many states comprised the country, in an apparent bid to “know her Indianness”.
When Khangembam told the official she hailed from Manipur, he allegedly asked her to name the states Manipur shared its border with.
“I said I was really getting late and he goes like, “aircraft aapko chodke kahi nahi jaa rahi. Aaram se jawab do” (the aircraft isn’t leaving without you. You can answer at ease.)
Scores of users on social media condemned the allegations, the latest in a string of racist incidents against northeastern people.
“Such type of treatment is unacceptable, concerned authorities must look into it,” Khangembam’s sister told ANI.
In December, a group of men in Gurgaon brutally assaulted a 29-year-old man from Manipur. Earlier that year, 19-year-old Nido Taniam succumbed to ‘serious injuries’ after being brutally beaten in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar locality.
Northeastern people say they face violence and discrimination for being “immigrants”, are regularly bullied and called names.