Hyderabad: Ever since COVID-19 broke out in China, Indian racism towards people from north-eastern states has become very explicit. The latest is the case of a woman journalist from the north eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, who works for an English daily in Hyderabad. The journalist, Leemi Keche was called ‘Coronavirus’ by the public while she was on her way to a medical shop.

“On my way to the medical shop today, at least 15 people called me corona virus,” the young reporter tweeted.

Leemi said next time a similar incident happens she would record it and file a complaint against the abusers. She added that it’s high time people understand that north east is an integral part of India.

“I ain’t taking this bulls*** anymore. It’s worst than the virus itself. The virus can be cured but people with this mindset carry with them till their graveyards. It’s like a double war for us,” Leemi said.

Meanwhile, what Leemi experienced is not a one-off incident in the city. In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, students and employees who are natives of the north-east, are being called ‘corona’ and are being ridiculed.

Even the natives of North-East India who stay in Hyderabad have come under repeated racially driven attacks owing to their mongoloid features, they said.

Omen Achom, a Ph.D. scholar from Manipur, who studies in EFLU said, “The mongoloid features I have is alarmingly unwelcoming now, it always was unwelcoming and it will be…I could see the plight of buying antibiotics and medicine for my sinusitis because I look Chinese… In March, I came back to Hyderabad and by that time Hyderabad had a corona positive techie and I could see the fear and disgust when they see a mongoloid face in tea stalls, breakfast points, groceries and vegetable shops. The racial psyche is already at work.”

Several students are of the opinion that even though people from the north-east part of India are not responsible for spreading COVID-19 in the country, they are still bearing the brunt due to their ethnicity alone.

“We have been so conditioned towards the casual racism here, that it has almost become a joke for us. Getting called ‘chinky’ or ‘momo’ is the norm. Add Coronavirus into the equation, now we are being called ‘corona’ as well,” added Rhulia Nukhu, a Ph.D scholar studying in Hyderabad.

(Representative Image/ Credits: Insidene)

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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