At a time when the coronavirus outbreak has led to panic in parts of the country, at least eight northeastern students at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have reported incidents of harassment inside and outside the campus, saying they were racially profiled because of their appearance.
The North Eastern Students Forum at TISS issued a statement on Monday, which read, “This discrimination is a grim reminder of inherent racial prejudices and stereotyping of particular people based on their physical features…which is now being played out in the pretext of health concerns.”
Members of the forum also approached the dean of student affairs, Asha Banu, to seek administrative intervention in the matter. On February 10, a TISS Mumbai student and a friend, both hailing from Nagaland, were subjected to harassment by residents of the housing society the student lives in.
“My friend from Nagaland was here for only two days. Because she came directly from the airport with her luggage, and was wearing a mask, the neighbours on my floor raised objections to her coming to stay. They even videographed her without her consent and threatened to call the police,” the student told The Indian Express.
The incident led to the Nagaland students at TISS to release a statement, condemning the “racial profiling” of the student’s friend and terming it a “continuation of the mistreatment and hostility towards northeast people”.
Another student said he was called “coronavirus” by three men in Chembur on Sunday night, while he was out with friends. “While there is no outright issue, these are insensitive, casual, racist remarks,” he said.
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