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Monday, May 25, 2020

COVID-19: Hyderabad store manager, guards booked for denying Manipuri boys entry into supermarket

In his complainant, Angam Weapon (24) and Thangkai Haokip (22) said they were denied entry into Star supermarket on Wednesday because of their facial appearance and sought action against the management.

Written by Rahul V Pisharody | Hyderabad | Updated: April 9, 2020 5:43:53 pm
Screengrab from @jtrichao Twitter video.

Manager of a supermarket in Hyderabad and two security guards employed at the premises have been booked by Rachakonda police after they denied entry to two youngsters from Manipur reportedly based on their appearances.

Vanasthalipuram police registered a case under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc), 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), and 341 (wrongful restraint) of IPC against the store manager and two guards of Starmarket, said Vanastalipuram police. Store manager D Venkat Ramana, guard K Shankaraiah and Dileepkumar are in police custody.

In his complainant, Angam Weapon (24) and Thangkai Haokip (22) said they were denied entry into Star supermarket on Wednesday because of their facial appearance and sought action against the management. Both are B.Tech students and residents of Hills Colony, Vanastalipuram.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Thangkai Haokip said it was the first time he and his friend were faced with such a situation. The supermarket is about three minutes away from their residence and even a week ago they had shopped from the same supermarket. “Yesterday, the guards called us foreigners despite we showing our Aadhar cards. All
we wanted was groceries and we wanted to talk to the manager. They refused to pay heed and sent us back empty-handed,” he said. Thangkai and Angam along with several other students from Manipur have been living in Hyderabad for over three years. “Following this incident, we have received a lot of calls extending support,” he added.

When contacted, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Vanastalipuram) S Jayaram said that investigation is in progress. “Because of the way they look, the watchman might have thought they were foreigners. The manager could have given a blanket order to not allow foreigners. But it is racial discrimination and is a very serious issue. Some people
do it (discriminate) knowingly and some may do it (indiscriminate) unknowingly but we are presuming that it was done knowingly. Serious action will be taken,” he said.

The incident took place on Wednesday afternoon and came to light after a tweet from a friend of the duo went viral on social media. Alleging racism, Jonah (@jtrichao) had tweeted that two of his friends were denied entry at Starmarket in Vanastalipuram as they looked like foreigners. Even after producing their Aadhar cards, they were denied entry and sent back empty-handed. He also shared a couple of videos claiming that other customers were allowed to enter without any hassle.

Jonah’s tweet received a response from Union Minister Kiren Rijiju who sought details of the incident. Telangana minister KT Rama Rao also tweeted calling the incident ridiculous. “This is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable. Racism in any form should be dealt with sternly. Request @TelanganaDGP Garu to instruct all Police Commissioners & Superintendents of Police to take up these issues seriously with retail association & send out a clear message. (sic)” KTR tweeted.

Principal Secretary for Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MAUD), Arvind Kumar, too tweeted calling people to come out in support of people from North-eastern states. “It’s unfortunate & our apologies! Collector RR dist has informed that FIR is registered against the manager of this outlet & that the Accused are in custody.
Also, request people to come out in support of our brothers & sisters from NE at this point esp.”(sic)

This is not the first time incidence of racial discrimination is noticed in Hyderabad. On March 27, a journalist Leemi Keche had tweeted out saying she and her friend who is a nurse were called coronavirus by at least 15 people when they were walking on the streets. MoS Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy had condemned this and demanded strong action against the miscreants.

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