There has been a rise in cases of racism against people from Northeast post COVID-19. In reported cases, common people and authorities have responded swiftly, filing FIRs and arresting perpetrators
COVID-19 warrior Dr Angukato Z Achumi works from 8 pm to 8 am treating people and putting his life in danger every day at the Midnapore Medical College in West Bengal. For his service locals abused him, used derogatory words against him and accused him for spreading the virus. His daily 1.5 km walk back from hospital to his home was harrowing, with local boys stopping him and spewing venom. He not for once lost his cool. The doctor lives with his mother and brother.
His house owner Biswajit Dey, who is a chemistry teacher, stood by him appealing to his neighbours and creating awareness about the doctor and his state which so far had not seen a single case of COVID-19. Dey also went to the local police station to complain. Since then Dr Achumi has received calls from the police station and has been assured of his safety. They have also started patrolling the area and sensitising the locals about non-discrimination against COVID-19 warriors.
Biswajit Dey is among the many in India who are standing against racism against people from the Northeast.
This at a time when ignorant citizens of the country are calling us “coronavirus” and blaming us spreading the disease, this because of our mongoloid features. These covidiots are unaware that the region of northeast has the lowest coronavirus cases in India, especially Sikkim which has none.
Several Northeast organisations and individuals are also firefighting day and night to see that people who are discriminated against are safe. North East Support Centre & Helpline gets hundreds of calls every day. Their volunteers across the country then reach out to for assistance.
In Karnataka, a group of girls were forced out of their home by their employer. They move into another locality where they faced discrimination, they could not even venture out. Their roommate, an Assamese girl (with more Indian features) was the only one who could go out to buy groceries. Their nightmare was compounded when a neighbour barged into their house at midnight and took videos of them. Their private space infringed, threatened, abused they were on the edge.
After their predicament was made public on social media, Udipi Chilmangalur MP Shobha Karandlaje, reached out. The MP visited the place of the girls the very next day and demanded stringent action against those who harassed the girls. Arrests were immediately made.
In Hyderabad, two Manipuri students were denied entry into a grocery supermarket because of their mongoloid looks. The guards of the supermarket stopped them outside the supermarket and were adamant in not letting the two boys inside.
The guards then went further and asked the boys to prove their “Indianness” with some official IDs, which they did in the form of Aadhaar cards. Even after that, they were stopped from proceeding inside the mart. The boys had to return home empty-handed.
The Telangana police upon being informed on social media acted swiftly. They took three persons into custody, including two security guards and the manager of Star Market, after an FIR was filed on the incident. The departmental chain also apologised on social media.
Mahesh Bhagwat, Rachakonda Commissioner of Police, personally interacted with the two youths and handed over two bags of rice, pulses and other essential items to them as a gesture of good faith. These acts are reassuring.
These are just a few examples of good samaritans who have come forward. There are numerous stories of good people coming in the aid of their countrymen. Fighting ignorance with information will be difficult as the vast mainland know so little about northeast India. Swift action by authorities act as a temporary deterrent - the real difference will be made when school syllabus has chapters from the glorious history of Northeast India for the rest of the county to understand. The region is rich in history and tradition, the knowledge of it will not only make India proud but also enable a start in wiping away misinformation and discrimination.