Guwahati: The COVD-19 pandemic has given rise to another virus in India — racism. There have been several cases reported across the country against people from Northeast India.
Manipur-born activist Angellica Aribam is victim to this, she has faced racial slurs on Twitter. The online abuse was so extreme that she had to file an FIR with the Delhi Police’s cyber crime cell. She felt that a majority of the cases go unnoticed. “Not all cases of racial discrimination finds its way to our social media feeds or even headlines of media,” she said. She has now started an online petition requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue strict orders against any such discrimination across the country.
“Last week, a young woman from Manipur was spat on and called ‘corona’ in the national capital. The same evening, I faced severe online abuse with trolls labelling me as ‘bat-woman’ and sending explicit content with the derogatory slur, ‘chinki’,” said Aribam in a phone in conversation with EastMojo.
“The scary reality is that these are just the cases which have been reported so far, what about the ones which go unnoticed amidst the plethora of COVID-19 news?” she questioned.
Social media is littered with stories of people from Northeast facing the brunt of coronavirus racism. Racism is inherent among Indians but at a time when the country is going through a pandemic – it puts a section of people with mongoloid features in danger. They have been cases of physical assault, some have been denied entry into stores to buy essentials, asked to vacate their rental home, verbal abuse etc. The list is long.
Showing their Aadhaar cards to “prove” they are Indians is humiliating. The police of several states have been quick to take action but these are mostly cases which have been widely reported. The rest are silently tucked away.
“To answer the why is very difficult, but simply put, we have already been labeled as ‘chinky’, ‘Chinese’, ‘chowmein’, for quite some time,” said Aribam.
“Now after the well-known fact that the coronavirus pandemic originated from China, people just easily associate it with us as we are blessed with our Mongoloid features,” she added.
The anger and frustration of not being able to do enough led Aribam to start a petition on change.org. ‘PM Modi: Urgently Make a Statement Condemning Racial Attacks on Indians from North East’ has already got more than 35 thousand signatures. The target of 50 thousand is yet to be achieved but Aribam is hopeful of making it.