Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Monday urged the prime minister and home minister to take action against those racially attacking people from the North East amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The chief minister’s statement came after two students from Nagaland were denied entry at the grocery store of a large retail chain in Mysuru, Karnataka, after the staff allegedly insisted they were Chinese nationals, News18 reported.
Tweeting video footage of the incident, which has gone viral on social media, Zoramthanga said: “I am pained, shocked and in my worst awe seeing this video. When has humanity stooped so low.”
He appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to look into the matter and take immediate action against the perpetrators. The chief minister also tagged his counterparts in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in the tweet.
The police in Mysuru said that a first information report has been filed in the incident and the store’s manager and staff was taken into custody. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma took cognizance of the incident and said he spoke to Mysore MP Pratap Sinha about the attack.
In the video that was shot by one of the two students, they can be heard questioning the staff of the retail store, More Megastore, after they were denied permission to enter the supermarket. “We are also human beings like you. Why are you stopping us? We are showing you our Aadhaar cards,” the men can be heard saying. Within minutes, other employees at the supermarket can be seen charging at the students to stop them from filming the incident, while onlookers refused to intervene.
More Megastore on Sunday issued a statement condemning the attack. “More Retail does not accept discrimination of any kind in its stores,” it tweeted. “Our stores are open to all citizens of the country. This incident will be immediately investigated. We adhere to all the norms of State and Central Authorities and also request all the customers to follow the same.”
There have been reports about Asians around the world having to contend with racial attacks, as people blame them for the Covid-19 outbreak that originated in China last year. In India, people from the north eastern states are also facing coronavirus-related racism and xenophobia.
Earlier this month, a 25-year-old woman from Manipur was allegedly spat on in North-West Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar area. The woman alleged that a man first “misbehaved” with her. When she objected, he spat on her and yelled “corona” before fleeing on a two-wheeler. Before that, a woman in Ahmedabad along with eight of her colleagues, all from Nagaland, had to spend the night in a government quarantine facility meant for suspected patients of the coronavirus disease, without having any physical symptoms for the disease.
On March 23, the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked state governments to sensitise all law enforcement agencies on taking action against the harassment of people from the North East.