Two Manipuri women who are working in Idukki district’s Thodupuzha in Kerala say that they had been facing racist discrimination and abuses from their neighbor. They had moved from Muvattupuzha to Thodupuzha on March 21 and one of the women says they had been facing racist intolerance from their neighbor since then.
“It started as soon as we reached here on 21 of March. The day we reached, the harassment started. We don’t know them, they started harassment on the day itself. One of our friends came for dropping us as we were shifting our stay. They were shouting, we don’t know what they were shouting since we don’t know Malayalam. They seemed very harsh by pointing at us and shouting. We were very scared. We kept staying inside. We were told by the house owner not to go out. We give the owner lists of things to buy, he gets us essentials. Now, we are running out of money and it gets difficult. Day before yesterday we tried to go out because we didn’t have anything to eat.” One of them told Keyboard Journal in terms of keeping anonymity. They were in quarantine and once they went out and returned in an auto, and the auto driver who dropped them also abused for “carrying CoVID”.
They approached the police seeking protection from possible attacks. A team of police officials visited them and assured help in case they inform.
The house owner Paul says that as soon as they moved into his building, they began facing this harassment. They were asked to go in quarantine. “They didn’t file any official police complaint saying they do not want to put anyone in trouble. They just wanted to be safe whenever they need to go out. I’m prepared to be of any help and I stand by them” he said.
Thodupuzha CI Sudhir said that the accused is a 65 years old man. While he was called to police station for an enquiry he fainted at the police station. He was taken to hospital. CI denied any racism in this case and said the accused was just worried of them carrying CoVID because of their Mongoloid features. When asked whether that isn’t xenophobia and racism he said, “You know CoVID 19 originated from Wuhan in China. So he was scared of a spread. There is nothing racist here.” The CI said their team will keep a look on the women from Manipur further.
Human rights activist and lawyer Alana Golmei said that the women had written to the National Commission of Women chair person. One of the members of NCW assured intervention when Alana made a contact with her on this regard, she said.
This is the first incident of racist discrimination on citizens from North Eastern states to be reported in Kerala. In various parts of India attacks on NE citizens are at a rise, they are being harassed and physically attacked in the name of “corona. A female student from Manipur was spat pan on her face on March 22, Janta curfew by a Hindu man. Forced CoVID 19 tests on people from Nagaland happened in Ahmedabad, and on a student from Sikkim in Jadavpur. This goes on even when the NE states are the least affected by CoVID19.