The security guard of Star Market did not allow the two youths from Manipur to enter the shopping mart even after they produced their Aadhaar cards Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: Amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, two youths hailing from Manipur found themselves at the receiving end of ‘racial discrimination’ after they were barred from entering a supermarket in Hyderabad’s Vanasthalipuram area on Wednesday.

In a shocking video now widely shared on Twitter, the two Manipuri youths can be heard talking some sense into a security guard who is hell-bent on denying them entry just because he thought they are not ‘Indian’ enough due to their Mongoloid looks.

The incident happened on Wednesday afternoon when the two youths — pursuing civil engineering at St Mary’s Group of Intitutions in Hyderabad — went to a nearby Star Market shopping mart in Vanastalipuram to get some grocery items amid the national lockdown.

At first, the security guard barred them from entering the supermarket premises even though other customers were allowed. As they entered into an argument, the guard asked them for their IDs, to which they promptly displayed their Aadhaar cards. Although an Aadhaar card should have been ‘proof’ enough to allow the boys to enter the market, he then stopped them saying, “Manager is having lunch, let him come and you can talk with him thereafter.”

When the people standing nearby asked the boys about the reason, the security guard then switched to Telugu asking the boys to speak in the local language even though he had perfect command over Hindi just a few seconds earlier. The boys had no other option but to return home empty-handed.

“There was nothing to eat at our place, so we went to the grocery mart located right in our neighbourhood,” said one of the two youths in a telephonic conversation with EastMojo. “The situation is already grim with people dying because of the pandemic, now we are being discriminated just on the basis of our looks?” he asked.

Angry and disappointed at the ‘discrimination’ meted out to them, the youths then shared the video in a closed WhatsApp group for the Pouma community people living in Hyderabad. It was then that Jonah Trichao, channel head for OLX India, Hyderabad, started sharing the video among various student organisations, besides on Twitter.

When Karma Paljor, editor-in-chief of EastMojo, raised the issue with Union minister of state for sports and youth affairs Kiren Rijiju (who also hails from the Northeast) on Twitter, he promptly replied saying he will follow up, “as such incidents have been dealt with very strongly by the police”. “These type of acts and incidents are unacceptable in a civilized and democratic society like ours,” he added.

Meanwhile, when the two youths went to the police to lodge an FIR, the officials asked him to come in the evening as an FIR had already been launched and both the manager of Star Market and the security guard were in police custody.

The incident comes a few days after some Naga students were not allowed to enter a supermarket in Mysore in a similar instance of discrimination based on looks.

A video, which went viral on social media, clearly showed the Naga students not being allowed to enter More supermarket by its staff in Mysore.

In the video, one of the students can be heard saying, “We are Indians, we need groceries too, we live here, we have Aadhaar Card. How can you discriminate (against) us?” This happened even as another customer entered the shop and a More staff member came out to stop a person from making the video.

Later, Mysore police commissioner Chandragupta said that an FIR had been registered and the manager and staff of the outlet had been taken into custody.

Reacting to the video, MoS Kiren Rijiju had tweeted then: “This is unacceptable. Union Home Ministry has already issued clear advisory to all the States and Union Territories to prevent any such discrimination against the people of North-East. Pls inform the local Police wherever this incident had occurred as soon as possible.

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