Coronavirus outbreak: MHA advises against discrimination of northeast people

Asks States to take action amid several incidents of racial attacks linking them to COVID-19 outbreak in India

March 23, 2020 10:47 pm | Updated 10:47 pm IST - New Delhi

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday issued an advisory to all States to ensure sensitisation of law enforcement agencies to take action against harassment of people of northeast amid several incidents of racial attacks linking them to COVID-19 outbreak in India.

The advisory comes in the wake of several incidents reported across the country when people from the northeast were subjected to racial discrimination.

“It has come to the notice of the Ministry that people from the northeast have been facing harassment after the occurrence of COVID-19 in the country. There have been cases where people from northeast, including athletes and sportspersons, have been harassed by linking them to COVID-19. This is racially discriminatory, inconvenient and painful to them,” the MHA advisory said.

The advisory addressed to Chief Secretaries and Directors-General of Police of all States and Union Territories added that “all law enforcement agencies in States and Union Territories be sensitised to take appropriate action in cases of harassment when these are reported.”

Rijiju’s appeal

On March 18, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju who represents Arunachal Pradesh in the Lok Sabha had raised the issue with the northeast division in the MHA.

“Some incidents of racial remarks against North-East people have emerged in some parts of India in the wake of #Coronavirus due to cultural ignorance, prejudice mindset & lack of understanding. Matter discussed with NE Division, MHA. Strict advisory is being issued to the States,” Mr. Rijiju had tweeted.

On March 17, Arunachal (East) MP Tapir Gao had also raised the issue in the Lok Sabha. Mr. Gao requested the government to issue an advisory to all States to protect students from the northeast who were “facing discrimination to the extent of vacating them from the rented apartments” after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wuhan in China has been the epicentre of the virus outbreak.

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