Migrants from northeast face discrimination amid coronavirus outbreak

Published 08 April 2020  |  
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With so much false news going viral on the internet at this time of pandemic, there has been a surge in the number of incidents against members of the northeast community in the country.

Several videos show young migrants from the Christian-dominated northeastern states being stopped from entering supermarkets and grocery stores just because they look like Chinese.

They are continuously becoming victims of discrimination because of their Mongoloid facial features.

They are mistreated, spat upon and called "corona" as people believe they could be carrying the coronavirus that was first reported in China last December.

"I am pained, shocked and in my worst awe seeing this video! When has humanity stooped so low?" tweeted Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga when he shared one such video on his social media account.

Thomas Ngullie, former minister of Nagaland, told UCA news that "Continued humiliation or racism against ethnic groups from northeastern India can cause unexpected and unprecedented social conflicts in the country."

He warned that "If such acts of discrimination continue against the Mongoloid race in India, the consequences may be bitter."

In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) urged Modi to address the issue, which is putting the northeast migrants under high risk.

The letter stated that "Working professionals, students and ordinary residents of this country have been called 'corona' or 'Chinese' and held responsible for bringing the virus to India."

Mizoram has a population of 1.12 million and has reported only one confirmed COVID-19 case of a pastor who returned from his Europe tour.

In Meghalaya, though there were no confirmed COVID-19 cases, more than 3,000 people have been kept under surveillance.

Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh are among the northeastern states that have a high Christian population.

With Good Friday and Easter less than a week away, Churches in Mizoram have decided not to observe any of these or gather for prayer due to the coronavirus outbreak.

So far, the country has around 5,749 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 164 deaths.

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