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Facing The virus of hate

People from the Northeast continue to be foolishly targeted after the coronavirus outbreak

coronavirus-crisis Updated: Mar 30, 2020 14:14 IST
Prerna Gauba and Aprajita Sharad
Prerna Gauba and Aprajita Sharad
There have been reports of people from the Northeast being stupidly blamed for the spread of the pandemic.
There have been reports of people from the Northeast being stupidly blamed for the spread of the pandemic.(Hindustan Times)

Amidst the corona virus scare, we see prejudice rearing its ugly head once again. There have been reports of people from the Northeast being stupidly blamed for the spread of the pandemic. Incidents of hate have been reported from across India. Recently, a 20-year-old student from Manipur was spat on in the Capital by a man who called her ‘corona’. Another North Easterner, Oinam Devi was targeted by a man in a departmental store in Chennai, who told her that she “neither looked Indian, not behaved like one”.

Angellica Aribam, a Delhi political activist was also abused and harassed on Twitter after she commented on a minister’s tweet, suggesting her to address certain issues. Many called her ‘Chinki’ and asked her to wash her hands. These derogatory comments lead her to file a complaint with the cyber crime cell. Aribam says it’s extremely disheartening to be discriminated in her own country. “I came to Delhi when I was twelve, I’m now 28 and I have faced discrimination throughout. This is the time to fight the virus together, but some people are just spreading hate. I have filed a Zero FIR and have also reported this to the cyber crime unit. They have approached Twitter and they will get back to me,” says Aribam.

Designer Jenjum Gadi says he could see this coming. “I knew this was going to happen. Even before the lockdown, I was very careful. I didn’t want to give anyone a chance to harass me. I made sure I didn’t go close to anybody. Even while running in the park, I make sure to maintain distance. Otherwise somebody will call me corona. This thought keep playing in my mind. It’s sad,” says Jenjum.

Gadi says he doesn’t really care much about such kind of discrimination, as he has ‘become thick skinned’. “But this corona thing is different. People are dying, there is a lockdown and in middle of all this, when somebody calls you corona you can imaginw how you will feel! Imagine the trauma of those who are victims of this ignorant discrimination,” says Gadi.

Incidents of racist attacks are being reported from Delhi University as well.

A Delhi University student from Nagaland was also called at the metro station. “I was wearing a mask, and I was waiting in the line to buy a ticket. Two boys came up close behind me and started saying corona corona. I was really angry. I confronted them and they smiled. I told them that they can be punished for racism.” The student reached out to the Metro police for help, but was told to contact the customer care desk. “I am Indian, and I am a north-easterner. It hurts when people of my own country treat me badly. It’s not just me, five of my friends from the North East have been made fun of during the outbreak,” he says.

Another Delhi University student pursuing Masters in History from DU was about to board a flight to Guwahati, when five men pointed at her and shouted, “Yeh dekho Coronavirus!.” The student says, “I was shocked. It took time for all of this to register. The men were giggling. I was extremely hurt.”

Both the DU students said that despite having been made the target of cruel Coronavirus jokes, they didn’t get any assistance from concerned authorities.

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