Racial slurs no longer bother Athoibee Kakchingtabam, a native of Manipur. However, it gets deeply hurtful when it comes from a 10-year-old child. In her 6-month short stint in New Delhi, she has encountered various types of name-calling everyday, mainly because she hails from the North-Eastern region of India, and for having a different accent and unique food habits.
However, ever since there has been a spike of COVID-19 cases across the country, she has noticed some very heartbreaking developments in the region. On a Sunday evening, while walking out of a mall in Kamla Nagar, New Delhi, she was called “Coronavirus.”
“A 10-year-old girl approached me and just said the word ‘Coronavirus’. I was shocked for a moment, thinking, and then I just turned around and scolded her. I explained to her that it is a form of racism, and she apologised,” said Athoibee. She further added that “I’ve been subject to racism around 3 to 4 times during the Coronavirus outbreak. I am not sure why people are openly calling us ‘Coronavirus’. But it is deeply hurtful. Is it because we have Mongoloid features?”
In these times of Corona Virus, a Mizo girl in Pune faced racism as she has mongolian/Chinese features. indians are always being racists when it comes to North East. pic.twitter.com/tnG0K26mRf
— Akhu Chingangbam (@Akhucha) March 9, 2020
Athoibees’ isn’t a lone case. Amid the deadly outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, many people from the North-East have faced similar problems. Earlier, two northeastern Delhi University women students were attacked in New Delhi and were called ‘coronavirus.’
Another Northeast student was spat on while walking down the lanes of North Delhi. Responding to these cases, the Delhi University Students Union said that they will soon look into this problem. The Union further said that a helpline number for the students hailing from the Northeast will soon be launched.
Athoibee also shares that a few of her friends have also shared humiliating incidents of racial discrimination. She said, “Many times, North East people have faced racism in Delhi. Sadly, mainland India does not consider us as an Indian citizen. The COVID-19 outbreak is just an excuse to discriminate against us.”
The Coronavirus or COVID-19 is said to have originated in China last year. The COVID-19 virus has spread across 77 countries, affecting more than 7,00,000 and killing more than 29,000 people worldwide.