Hyderabad: Discrimination is not anything new for the people from the north-eastern states. However, in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, students and employees who are natives of the north-east, are being called new names: like ‘corona’, for instance.

According to Suhro, an MNC employee who is originally from Kohima, Nagaland, people from the north-east who have migrated to Indian cities, in search of better opportunities, have always been racially discriminated against. “But this time, it is a bit different, with the coronavirus in the picture,” he says.

'Corona' is the new name for us now'

“We always get looked at or stared at, which is something that we have gotten used to, with all our years of staying here. But being mocked as ‘coronavirus’ is a bit unsettling. It’s something that has grown in the past 2-3 months, and I’ve experienced it at least once each time I go out to buy groceries or do shopping,” says Suhro, who has been staying in Hyderabad for the past three years.

“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.

To add to, the President of the United States of America has repeatedly called the virus as 'Chinese Virus'. In the backdrop, the native of North-East India is being ragged as 'Corona' owing to their mongoloid features, they said.

Casual racism quite rampant

Some reactions of Hyderabadi people have been more subtle, but nevertheless casually racist, says Jenny Diamari, another student from Assam. “A few days back, I was taking the share auto from University to go towards Gachibowli, and the moment I entered the vehicle, the women who were already sitting in the auto had covered their faces! Another incident was when I had gone to visit Golconda Fort and random people were calling out ‘corona’, ‘corona’ as I walked by,” she said.

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 as of yet, they are still bearing the brunt due to their ethnicity alone. “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,” said Omen Achom, a Ph.D. scholar from Manipur, who studies in EFLU.

When asked if they would like to take this forward, in terms of lodging a complaint, the trio refused.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

Next Story