NEW DELHI: With the recent outbreak of coronavirus and the exponential rise in the number of cases, people from the north-eastern States of India, besides being affected by the pandemic, have also been hit by racial profiling and discrimination based on their appearance.
Given the fact that they possess features of a typical 'Asian look' — causing them to be likened to the citizens of China, from where the deadly virus spread to the world. Deliberately or a case of mistaken identity, people from the Northeast have become victims of attacks, racial slurs and stereotypical discrimination.
It was not long before a certain section of people started to vent their coronavirus-manifested frustrations on Indians from the Northeast by name calling them "Coronavirus", "Corona" etc. This, at a time when the entire country is anxious about preventing the pandemic wreaking even more havoc.
In the past one month and through the various phases of the lockdown, cases of discrimination based on racial profiling have intensified. IANSlife spoke with many such victims who have faced rent issues, lack of essentials, finance problems, landlord and tenant issues, non-payment of salary, loss of job, medical emergencies with physical abuse and verbal slurring, due to the perceived resemblance.
Many who are facing the brunt of these attacks are still stranded in different parts of the country and unable to make their way home, while they have mercilessly been asked to vacate their rented apartments, hostels and paying guest accommodations.
In a typical incident during this lockdown— a 20-year-old Manipuri girl, was racially abused and physically attacked, by an elderly woman and few others in Haryans's Gurgaon; while an individual being spat on by random strangers, say reports.
Like many across the country, the north-eastern region accounts for thousands of residents contributing to the workforce and skilled labour in Indian metropolitan cities, who migrate in search of better work and educational opportunities.
"Racism happens everywhere around the world directly or indirectly. What is happening to North Eastern people during this pandemic is unfortunate and it's been happening to us for a very long time even before this global health crisis. I pray and hope that one day, Indians no matter which part of the country we are from and what we look like, we can respect each other and live as one," says singer and musician Alobo Naga. In an act of solidarity and unity, like-minded people from the region across diverse professions such as civil service, law, social work, public health, education, and other professions have joined hands with Special Police Unit for North Eastern Region (SPUNER), Delhi Police who work for the security of the north-eastern people, with a 24x7 dedicated Helpline '1093' (Toll Free) under the supervision of David Lalrinsanga, IPS. Joint Commissioner Cum Nodal Officer for northeast people in Delhi since it's inception in 2014, form the North East Task Force (NETF); a platform streamlined to address and redress the issues and grievances faced by the Northeast community at this time of crisis. (IANS)