COVID-19 | Man calls DU student ‘coronavirus’, spits on face

Hemani Bhandari NEW DELHI 24 March 2020 02:03 IST
Updated: 24 March 2020 09:21 IST

People from Northeast in the city are copping racial abuses in the wake of the pandemic

With the COVID-19 cases escalating, people from Northeastern States in the city are getting racially taunted. At least two women from Manipur have registered complaints in the last couple of days.

On Sunday night, a 26-year-old MPhil Scholar from the University of Delhi, was allegedly spat on by a man on his scooty, who called her “Coronavirus” before fleeing in a “dark alley” near Baccha Park in Mukherjee Nagar area. The woman, from Manipur, said that she and her friend were returning to their paying guest accommodation after buying vegetables when the incident happened.

“One man, aged around 50 years, slowed down his scooty and spat paan on my face and called us ‘Coronavirus’ and drove away,” she said.


As soon they reached their accommodation, they called the police and lodged a complaint. “This is not the only incident we have faced. We have been called names and now they are spitting on us. We are not the ones who brought the virus to Delhi. We came here to study and with a hope of a better future. We are also Indians. Why should we be discriminated in our own land?” she asked.

The police have registered a First Information Report. Deputy Commissioner of Police (North West) Vijyanta Arya said that a case under section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC has been registered and CCTV footage is being scanned to identify the man on scooty.

Online abuse

In another incident, a 28-year-old political activist, Angellica Aribam from Manipur, was racially attacked online. She has lodged a complaint with Delhi Police Cyber Cell and the Northeast Cell Nodal Officer via email. Ms. Aribam told The Hindu that she had urged a Minister to take steps regarding COVID-19 on Twitter, after which she was hurled with racial slurs, besides copping threats on Facebook.

“The trolling turned racist and a graphic image was posted by a user. That’s when I decided that I’ll not take this. I also called the Northeast helpline and they offered to send a police official but I thought it wasn’t required,” she said.

Subsequently, she wrote to Delhi Police, and on Monday afternoon received a call from Cyber Crime Unit, who promised legal action. Ms. Aribam said that people from the Northeast have been facing racism regularly. “The reason is that we don’t have an anti-racism or discrimination law. People think they can comment and get away with it. No leader talks about it. There is a lack of political will,” she said.

General Secretary of Manipur Students Association Thokchom Veewon said that because of COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of students have left for their hometown. “Because of the features of the people from Northeast, they are being ridiculed as ‘Coronavirus’. They are being teased by calling “corona” at sight, treated differently at shops, convenience stores, etc. for which videos have been shared on social media. This is a total act of blatant ignorance and racial discrimination,” he said.

He also said that a lot of students have shared similar experiences.

Dr. Alana Golmei, General Secretary of Northeast Support Centre, said she was racially attacked and called ‘Coronavirus’ when she was roaming with a friend recently.

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