The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has issued an order asking states to take action in cases of harassment against north-eastern people in India, which have increased with the outbreak of the coronavirus.
It has also asked states to sensitise people as the harassment is "racially discriminatory, inconvenient and painful".
The coronavirus outbreak, considered a Chinese disease after its first case emerged in China's Wuhan city, has triggered rampant discrimination against northeast Indians due to their Mongoloid features.
“There have been cases where people of northeast including the athletes and sports persons have been harassed by linking them to COVID-19. This is racially discriminatory, inconvenient and painful to them", the Ministry of Home Affairs said in an order dated 23 March.
— Rishikesh Kumar (@rishhikesh) March 23, 2020
This comes after the Delhi police booked a man on 22 March for allegedly spitting on a woman from Manipur and attacking her with racial slurs and calling her “corona”.
— Akhu Chingangbam (@Akhucha) March 22, 2020
In another similar incident today, Angellica Aribam, a woman from the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur lodged a complaint against a man identified as Mayank Sikarwar for allegedly attacking her with the racial slur “Chinki”, used for northeast Indians with Mongoloid features. Use of the slur is a punishable offence with up to a five-year jail term, according to the country's anti-racism legislation.
— Angellica Aribam (@AngellicAribam) March 22, 2020
People from seven north-eastern states, known as the seven sisters, are often discriminated against for their facial features. The easternmost region of India is comprised of seven states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura.
India has a total 415 positive cases as of 23 March, with seven deaths and 23 recovered patients, according to the Health Ministry. The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), India’s premier research lab, told media that they have ordered 1,200 ventilators and are stepping up the testing of suspected cases.