Ankita Das, an Olympian who represented India at the 2012 London Games, said she and her family were being harassed by some locals in Siliguri because of false information about her return from Europe.
The paranoia surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to rumour-mongering and impulsive reactions from people all over India and Das said she has been made a target of the same.
The 26-year-old table tennis player said she came back from Germany on March 10 and travelled from Mumbai to Siliguri by flight before self-isolating at her house. However, a erroneous news report published in regional language newspaper and alleged offensive social media post by her neighbour led to much humiliation and people calling the local councilor to complain about her.
“On 5th I travelled to Berlin, things were normal in Germany then and I was back on 10th. I flew from Mumbai to Siliguri and when I came home I told my mom and uncle to not come close. I first showered and have been a different room since then. I took all the precautions because I am also concerned about my family,” Das told Scroll.in.
“But some neighbours are spreading rumours that I have come day before yesterday and am telling lies. If they had only asked me, would have informed them. But they complained to the local councilor and for three for days they were insulting me as well as my family. That is why I had to post on Facebook,” she added.
The news that she had just returned from Europe was published in one of the largest local newspapers in North Bengal, according to her.
The situation was getting bad and her family was unable to step out or get groceries but her call for help was answered at once, she says, by the Sports Ministry and local authorities.
“Yesterday I got a call from the Sports Ministry and they and the Table Tennis Federation of India helped me a lot. Today the DGP [Police] called and assured me that if something like this happens again, they will handle it,” she said.
As she returned on the 10th, the mandatory 14 days self-quarantine period is over and she says she has followed it throughout.
“For so many days I was isolated in a different room, was eating food in disposable plates. I don’t want to take any risk, I am also worried about my family and I have pets as well. By God’s grace I am fine now and 14 days are over,” she said.