Editorial

India’s racial virus

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 3/31/2020 1:06:00 PM IST

 India is a mega-diverse country, comprising of 28 states and 8 union territories and the home to all the eight major religions of the world; where the 130 crore people speak 22 major languages and over 720 dialects. India is inhabited by more than two thousand ethnic groups- from the Aryans, Dravidians, Austroasiatic, Sino-Tibetan etc. India’s pluralistic, multilingual and multi-ethnic society finds resonance in its constitution which guarantees equality to all. Racism against the north east community in metro cities and other parts of India was believed to be a thing of the past as used to be thought. Unfortunately, people from the north east- Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, Sikkim, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya- continue to experience the bitter and humiliating experience of being targets of racist remarks and physical abuse by ‘mainland’ Indians. They have been called ‘chinkis’, ‘momos’ and ‘Chinese’ for decades. Now a new term of abuse has been added to their bigoted lexicon- ‘Corona’. People in the Northeast are increasingly facing racism and discrimination in the rest of the country since the outbreak of the coronavirus, says a report by Rights and Risk Analysis Group (RRAG), a New Delhi-based rights group. Apart from being called “Corona”, “Chinese”, “Chinki”, India’s Mongoloid looking people were spat on and called “coronavirus”, forcibly quarantined despite showing no COVID-19 symptoms because of their looks, denied entry into the apartment complex , forced to leave the apartment, threatened with eviction from their apartment, forced to leave a restaurant to make others comfortable, none wanting to share transport with them, reported Suhas Chakma of RRAG.The report, called Coronavirus Pandemic: India’s Mongoloid Looking People Face Upsurge of Racism, documents 22 reported cases of hate and racial discrimination between February 7 and March 25. Chakma said that the Ministry of Home Affairs had issued an advisory on March 21 to take “appropriate action against cases of harassment of people from the north east”. He, however, said that in the absence of a law against racism and racial discrimination in India, such an advisory was inadequate. A 74-year-old cancer patient and his daughter were denied entry into an apartment complex in Mumbai as neighbours suspected them to be Chinese. Another girl from Meghalaya was forced to leave an upscale restaurant in New Delhi because she was a ‘Chinki’. Even in February the Northeast Students’ Forum of TISS alleged that some of its members were accused of carrying the deadly virus, which originated in China, owing to their facial features. Two students from Nagaland were video filmed and uploaded on social media with the warning that they were carrying coronavirus. A student from Ladakh who went to buy vegetables in Jammu was nudged out of the line with his elbow as he was accused of being a Chinese carrying coronavirus. In one horrifying incident in Delhi, a woman student from Manipur was called ‘corona’ and spat on. In the latest video that was shown on TV, a person from Nagaland was refused entry into a Bengaluru Mall because he was a ‘chinki’. MoS Kiren Rijiju said he would take up the issue with the home ministry, while Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal brought up the issue in the Lok Sabha on March 19. Thus, all these were not isolated incidents but outright racism that needs to be tackled with stringent punishments otherwise, these pose threats on unity and law and order.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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