Aug 4, 2020

“North East communities are frequently cast as being outside the boundaries of the Indian nation owing to their membership of a segment of the population identified by a racialised physicality. The appearance of someone with so-called 'chinky' features marks them as peripheral, and external to the hierarchies of caste,region and language that make up an established order – far from a just order to be sure – within the mainstream population; this is a position that some challenge and others embrace. Furthermore, there is the connotation of a connection to China, a connotation protestors used to punctuate their outrage.”

- An excerpt from “‘IsIndia Racist?’ Murder Migration and Mary Kom” (Duncan McDuie-Ra 2015: 308)

History speaks about the discrimination being faced by the people of North-East parts of India. And now due to COVID, the discrimination and hate crimes against these people have reached at its peak. Recently on 22nd March, 2020 a woman who held from Manipur was abused and was spat on with paan (betel leaves wrapped around tobacco, etc.) by a man in West Delhi. The woman told The Print that the scariest part was that the paan juice, which also included bits of tobacco,entered into her eyes which caused irritation in her eyes; moreover she was shocked by the incident. After all this, the man managed to escape from her after saying her “CORONA”! In another incident in Delhi, a young boy called an Assistant Professor of Delhi University as “Ye to Chinese hai, Corona,Corona”. A similar incident happened on the same day in Mumbai where an Indian Idol Fame Meiyang Chang was harassed by two guys who called him“CORONAVIRUS”.

The lists of such incidents are endless! These above incidents are not mere incidents but depict the reality and inhumane acts being faced by the North-East Indians, especially the India’s Mongoloid who mainly resides in the Seven-Sister states (also in some parts of West Bengal, and so on), throughout the country by our own people.These people of our country racially discriminate the North-East Indian people and called them as ‘Chinky’, ‘Momos’, ‘Chinese’, ‘Corona’, and so on. But why are such incidents happening?

The Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said that some incidents of racial remarks against North-East people have emerged in some parts of India in the wake of Coronavirus due to cultural ignorance, prejudice mindset and lack of understanding. For a North-East Indian hearing questions like ‘Are you from China?’ from the mainland Indians has become very common. This cultural ignorance and prejudice mindset has led to a disaster. Incidents of Hate crimes, brutal murder, mob lynching and so on are increasing day-by-day. The mainland Indians somewhere confounds the North Eastern person’s pursuit for belonging and a reputed and dignified life.

These people are being abused, attacked, harassed and threatened and are made allegedly linked to the pandemic that originated from China. Many people condemn this in humane act and raised this issue as a national threat. The Chief Minister of Meghalaya Conrad Sangma said that it was very unfortunate that during this time of crisis,their people from North-East are being harassed while the Chief Minister of Mizoram asked, “When has humanity stooped so low?”; he also requested the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to direct the States to do needful to stop harassment of North-East Indians to which the Prime Minister said, “Covid-19 does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking. Our response and conduct thereafter should attach primary to unity and brotherhood.We are in this together.” Though the matter is taken into account by the Prime Minister and other ministers but is there any proper action taken against those who did such heinous acts?

On 29th January,2014 a student from Arunachal Pradesh, Nido Tania was killed after racist attack in Delhi and this lead to extensive protests by North-East Indian students. In the wake of this incident, Bezbaruah Commitee was formed on 5th February, 2019 to suggest measures to be taken by the government to address these concerns and to suggest the legal remedies. One of the major issues raised by the NE Indians was “discrimination and apathy of the law enforcing agencies”and second was the derogatory remarks of racial prejudice made on them which ultimately hurt their sentiments.

In this regard, the Committee recommended to insert new sections, that is, 153 C and 505 A in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 through the Criminal Law (Amendment Bill), 2019 which included that if any person made racial discrimination, taunt or words that reflected racial prejudices that hurt the sentiment of a particular group, or any derogatory remarks made relating to race, culture, identity or physical appearance, then the person shall be punishable in the eyes of law. The Committee also suggested for creation of Fast Track Courts for handling the cases related to NE Indians so that the cases are dispensed quickly and justice is delivered in an effective way. Unfortunately, the Bill is still pending in the Parliament. Had the issue was taken into consideration earlier and the anti-racism law was passed, today the matter wouldn’t have been so serious.