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2 Darjeeling students face 'racial taunts' linked to COVID

Source: PTI
March 17, 2020 21:09 IST
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Two students from Darjeeling Hills studying at premier institutes in Kolkata allegedly faced racial taunts liked to coronavirus in separate incidents on city streets.

IMAGE: People walk past the Indian Museum which has been closed as a precautionary measure due to the outbreak of coronavirus in Kolkata. Photograph: ANI Photo

The abusers probably mistook the students with mongoloid features for nationals of China from where novel coronavirus had spread worldwide.

The two, a woman and a man, narrated their ordeal in social media, but did not lodge a formal complaint to police.

One of them, a 21-year old woman who is pursuing Masters degree at the Presidency University, shared a video on WhatsApp on Monday, in which she was seen confronting two men who had allegedly uttered 'coronavirus' pointing at her on a central Kolkata street.

"I have clearly heard you saying 'coronavirus esechhe' (see, coronavirus has come here) pointing at us three times as we were passing by," the woman, who was accompanied by a man from her native place, was heard telling two middle-aged men who tried to put up a defence.

One of the men said he was discussing coronavirus deaths with his friend and did not taunt her.

When the woman refused to buy his logic and insisted that he had taunted her, the other man asked her not to make a fuss and quietly leave the spot.

Ffter they threatened to take appropriate action against the men, they apologised, the woman said.

"We are pretty sure these two men purposely called us coronavirus as they look at people with mongoloid features in this way. However, since they apologised, we did not take any follow-up action. But it is
necessary to share our experience in social media to debunk racist prejudices," she told reporters on Tuesday.

The second incident involved a male student of the Jadavpur University, who claimed that when he was waiting for an autorickshaw, a transgender woman asked her companion to move away from him, saying "coronavirus esechhe".

"They looked at me with disgust, made some sound as if I was some vile thing, covered their mouths with their dupattas. They did it for the next couple of minutes until they got a taxi. I couldn't speak up," he narrated on Facebook.

He said he generally confronts people whenever he faces racial slur on streets, but "this time I was scared as there were four of them... I felt humiliated".

The student said he is not demonising the members of the transgender community or Bengali speaking population but "the problem is the mentality of racist people".

Kolkata Police sources said no complaint has been lodged by any of the two students.

JU Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das said, "If such a thing has happened, we condemn it. We are all working towards raising awareness among the general public."

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