The girls from Manipur have been living in Kerala for the past two months Credit: Representational image

Imphal: The Kerala police on Tuesday morning reached out to two girls from Manipur and assured them assistance after they made a distress call to the National Commission for Women (NCW) in the south Indian state amid national lockdown over COVID-19 pandemic.

A 65-year-old local man was arrested from Thodupuzha in Idukki district in connection with the case. He was later released under the condition that he will not interfere with the girls in the near future, said a police official.

On April 12, the two girls from Manipur’s Senapati district made an appeal to the NCW for help. “We then instructed the Kerala police to intervene into the matter as soon as possible,” NCW member Soso Shaiza said.

In a letter written to the NCW, the two girls, both 23 years old, stated that on March 21 they were asked to vacate Alphonsa Hostel in Muvathupuzha, where they were staying, ahead of the lockdown enforced across the country. While shifting to the British International Play School near Vyapara Bhavan in Thodupuzha, they were, however, assaulted by the locals who even shouted at the hostel owner for accommodating them.

They even filed a complaint against them, suspecting them to have the virus “just based on their looks”. Acting on the complaint, three police officials along with two nurses showed up and questioned them, they added in the letter.

Speaking with EastMojo, the girls informed that they faced more atrocities from the locals on April 11 while returning from grocery shopping. “A man from the locality verbally abused the auto driver for carrying us and forced both of us to get down from the vehicle,” one of the distressed girls said.

Due to hostility by the locals, they were unable to go out to buy even their daily essential items, they said in the letter.

However, as per police inspector Sudheer Manohar, the case is not related to racial discrimination. The man, identified as Abu, mistook the girls to be from China. That is why he alerted the police and health departments and suggested them to quarantine the girls, Manohar added.

The man threatened only the auto driver, not the girls as claimed by them, the police inspector said.

The two girls hailing from Manipur’s Song Song village in Senapati district went to Kerala on January 28. They have been staying in the southern state undergoing coaching for an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test since then.

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