Another incident of racial discrimination against two students from Northeast India has come to the fore amid the nation-wide complete lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Two students, who hail from Nagaland, alleged that they were denied entry at a supermarket – ‘More Megastore’ in Karnataka’s Mysuru amid the coronavirus scare.
A video of the incident that purportedly shows the supermarket staff rebuffing the students as they plead they are Indians and need certain provisions was widely circulated. The incident took place at the JLB Road branch of the More Supermarket around 6.30 pm on March 28th, 2020.
Later, police lodged an FIR at the Krishnaraja Police Station and took the manager and the staff into custody. The accused identified as Avinash (manager), Manjunath, Naveen and Revanna have been charged under penal code section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The police also urged the shop owners to desist from doing such discriminatory acts in this time of crisis.
Taking a serious note of the incident, Bhaskar Rao, Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru, said stern actions will be initiated against harassment on people from the Northeast. “Some misguided persons have made unwanted COVID-19 remarks against our brethren from Northeastern states. These misguided will be dealt with very sternly,” he tweeted while asking people from Northeast to approach him directly or the nearest police station.
However, the More Megastores, in a Tweet, said that the incident will be immediately investigated. “More Retail does not accept discrimination of any kind in its stores. Our stores are open to all citizens of the country. We adhere to all the norms of State & Central Authorities and also request all the customers to follow the same,” the Megastores added in the tweet.
It may be mentioned that reports of harassment of people from the Northeastern states have surfaced from some cities amid the pandemic. A 40-year-old man was arrested on March 25th, 2020, for allegedly spitting paan at a woman from Northeast and calling her coronavirus in Delhi.
Meanwhile, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s intervention over racial attacks on people from the Northeast region across the country.
“I am pained, shocked and in my worst awe seeing this video. When has humanity stooped so low,” the CM said in a Tweet.
Manipur CM N Biren Singh, while condemning the incident, said, “This is really condemnable. When will these people come out from the colonial mindset which rooted in their blood?”
Meghalaya CM Conrad K Sangma and Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu termed the incident as very unfortunate.
The country is under a complete lockdown that came into effect on March 24th, 2020, midnight for 21 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The virus has infected over 1000 people and claimed 29 lives so far in the country, according to the Health Ministry.
Photo credit: @ZoramthangaCM