Supermarket staff in Mysuru arrested for refusing entry to students from northeast

Updated - March 29, 2020 10:56 pm IST

Published - March 29, 2020 09:02 pm IST - MYSURU

A supermarket’s refusal to allow two students from Nagaland to enter their premises to buy food items sparked off outrage on social media, leading to the arrest of four staff members.

Two students from Nagaland — Yokai Johny Konyak and Ali Meren — stood in queue outside More Megastore, a retail chain, on Jhansi Lakshmi Bai Road in Chamundipuram for about 25 minutes on Saturday evening. But when their turn came, they were denied entry. Despite their pleas, the students were turned away as they were dubbed “not Indians”.

In an Instagram post made subsequently, one of the students said they reasoned with the security and staff of the store that they had no symptoms of COVID-19. When they were told by the staff that they were not from India, the students even showed them their Aadhaar cards to prove their nationality. “… but still they said we don’t accept foreigners … we went back home without groceries,” the student wrote.

The video accompanying the post, which went viral on different social media platforms, showed one of the students standing near the entrance of the store and pleading with the staff to be let inside. “Why are you discriminating? We too are Indians. We too are human beings. We too need groceries like you. We have Aadhaar cards. Why can’t you accept us?” he is heard telling a store representative.

Tweeting the video, anthropologist and author Dolly Kikon said on Twitter, “Meanwhile in Karnataka, Naga migrants from Northeast India not allowed to buy food. Shameful. Racism in India is an everyday affair.”

Police action

When the video began doing the rounds on social media, the Mysuru City Police took note of it on Sunday and made arrests, including the store manager. “We have booked a criminal case. We are inquiring into the matter,” said Prakash Gowda, Deputy Commissioner (Law and Order), Mysuru City Police.

Deputy Commissioner Abhiram G. Sankar said a case has been booked against the store for racial discrimination and other shop owners have been cautioned against discrimination on grounds such as race, religion and caste.

City Police Commissioner Chandragupta, in a statement, said an FIR was lodged by the Krishnaraja police immediately after the video was noticed. The store staff have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 153B, which deals with acts promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth etc., Section 341 (wrongful restraint), Section 290 (public nuisance), and Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant). Store manager Avinash, 26, Manjunath, 32, Naveen, 30, and Revanna, 30, were arrested after the police checked the store’s CCTV footage.

Meanwhile, More Retail Ltd., in a statement, said it would not accept discrimination of any kind at its stores. “Our stores are open to all the citizens of the country. This incident will be immediately investigated. We adhere to all the norms of the State and Central authorities and request all the customers to follow the same,” it said in a statement on Twitter.

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