N-E migrants face racial slurs, eviction threats

Published on Mar 29, 2020 12:21 AM IST
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HT Image
By, Mumbai

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, migrants from north-eastern states have claimed that they are being subjected to racial slurs in the city and are being asked to evict their rental homes even as their workplaces have refused to pay them salaries owing to the lockdown.

Guardian minister Aslam Shaikh has warned offenders and said the government will not tolerate any racial slurs. “We will take strict action against anyone who uses such racial slurs, especially against women,” said Shaikh.

“If any establishment fails to pay the salary of their staff, we will act against them,” he said.

“We are being jeered as ‘corona’ by locals. People should understand that we are Indians like them,” said Leo Tharmi Raikhan, who hails from Manipur and represents a group of north-eastern migrants in the city, adding that 90% of migrants from the north-eastern states work in the unorganised sector — in restaurants, spas, salons, malls and showrooms, which have been hit badly due to the lockdown.

“On the one hand, we don’t have secured jobs and salaries due to the lockdown, and on the other we cannot go back home due to the restrictions on movement. In such a scenario, many of us are being forced to pay the rent by landlords. We request the authorities to help us in this matter,’’ he said.

There are around one lakh people in the state from the north-east, a majority of whom live in Mumbai, mostly in rented flats and shared apartments in Kalina, Khar, Juhu and Mira Road.

Teteii Lalremmawli, who hails from Mizoram and works at a spa in the city, said her employer has refused to pay her salary.

“I will not be able to pay the rent this month and I am worried that I may be thrown out of my house. I am the only earning member in my family and I won’t be able to send any money back home,” said Teteii.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Krishna Hegde has appealed to landlords to adopt lenient measures until the situation improves.

“People from the north-eastern states will be forced to live on the streets if they are evicted from their homes, as they cannot go back to their respective states owing to the lockdown,” said Hegde, adding that the state should ensure that their employees pay them their salaries.


    Naresh is a Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, Mumbai, since 2005. He covers the real estate sector, in addition to doing political reportage.

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