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Addressing fellow citizens of the Northeast is unacceptable – editorials


The outbreak of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has led to uncertainty, forced people to reshape their lives, forced the health care system, and disrupted economic livelihoods. In all this, citizens are victims. But there is another consequence, for which a group of citizens have been responsible: the outbreak of racist attacks, particularly against fellow citizens of the northeast. A man on a motorcycle, more recently, spat on a young man from Manipur, in Delhi’s Vijay Nagar, called her “crown”, before walking away. This follows other incidents, in Calcutta, Pune and other parts of the country, where those in the northeast have been called “corona” or “coronavirus”.

Prejudice against those in the northeast has been a deeply disturbing, unfortunate, and unacceptable feature in the past. This has often taken the form of name calling, physical attacks and stigmatization. But the depth of prejudice that still exists is evident in these recent attacks. This is how the authors seem to think: the virus originated in China; the Chinese are responsible; those in the northeast “resemble” the Chinese; and then they are responsible and must be attacked. This line of thinking and mentality reflect deep ignorance on many levels and absolute racism. This must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

But mere condemnation is not enough. The legal consequences must follow. Anyone who engages in discriminatory and racist behavior is acting unconstitutionally. The authorities must act. Racism is unacceptable at any time. And at a time when the country must unite to fight the pandemic, stigmatizing an entire group of fellow citizens for their physical characteristics is criminal. Put this down now.

Hindustan Times