Racism: Manipuri woman asked to prove Indianness at Delhi airport; inquiry ordered

New Delhi, July 11: In yet another case of racial discrimination, a woman from Manipur was on Saturday, July 9, asked to prove that she is an Indian national, at Delhi international airport. An inquiry has been ordered into the incident.

Reports said that the woman was harassed by the airport staff authorities at the immigraton check. The shocking matter came to light when Monika Khangembam, who was scheduled to visit Seoul, narrated her ordeal on Facebook.

delhi airport

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said that an inquiry has been instituted into the allegation of racial harassment and action will be taken if anyone is found guilty.

"We are examining the case. We have asked for a full report. There have been previous cases of harassment. We will take action if there was a harassment," he told reporters.

The inquiry will be conducted by the Bureau of Immigration, which comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

After learning about the matter, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressed regret over the incident and said she would take up the issue with Home Minister Rajnath Singh "Monika Khangembam - I am sorry to know this. Immigration is not with me. I will speak to my senior colleague Shri @rajnathsingh ji to sensitise Immigration officials at the airport," Swaraj tweeted.

Monika posted on the social networking website, "The bloody racist immigration desk at it again! Looks at my Passport and says, "Indian toh nahi lagti ho". I get that all the time so don't react much to it but then he goes on, "Pakka Indian ho?" with a smirk. I still don't react. What really got me was when he said, "See... You yourself need to know your Indianess. How many states are there in India?" The lady at the next counter is giggling. I tell him I am really running late. He goes, "nahi nahi bolo bolo". I helplessly answer him as he is not proceeding with the process. And then he continues, "kaha se ho". I said Manipur and he is like, "so tell me how many states Manipur shares borders with. Name them". I totally lose it and I look away and roll my eyes and don't answer. And he is still insisting me to answer. This bloody moron has all the time to ask all this. I said I was really getting late and he goes like, "aircraft aapko chodke kahi nahi jaa rahi. Aaram se jawab do". What a bully and never felt so humiliated. It was like it was his mission to make me realise my 'Indianness' and he thought he was being funny. I was running late and felt I was giving in to the bully. Spoiled my night.
Is there a way to complain against these bullies?"

On Sunday night, July 10, Monika again posted, "Last night I was just venting out my frustration on FB about what happened last night at IGI Airport and I had no idea it will get viral and some news agencies will carry the news. A lot of you came out to support me and thank you for that. But I also saw some comments in other pages saying," stupid woman, that's not racism. Immigration people ask all sorts of questions... don't play victim card bla bla" (liberal Manipuris please don't give lectures on reverse racism now. Some other time).
Let me get it straight. I wouldn't have minded if he asked me TRIP RELATED QUESTIONS like what's the conference about, how long are you there, where do you work currently, who is funding, what's the purpose etc. It's even perfectly fine to ask where I am from but it's not fine bossing around asking with that sarcastic smile "HOW MANY STATES ARE THERE IN INDIA?" "NAME THE STATES BORDERING MANIPUR?" This is NOT RELATED TO THE TRIP nor I am a kid. And yes I regret not raising the issue then and there as there wasn't much time left for my departure and honestly I was worried he might not stamp my visa.
I am right now in Seoul for my programme and I have a hectic schedule ahead so might not be able to do anything from here. I can only do anything after I am back after 15 days. I couldn't get the name of the officer but a friend working at the IGI airport told me they can find out from CCTV footage.
Me and a lot of people from North East have constantly faced subtle racist jibes whether in the form of a sarcastic remark, smile, or attitude. Sometimes you cannot define it but you just feel it so you never express. Maybe this time it was something tangible so I could express it. Sadly you have to be killed to prove there is racism. (Richard Loitam, Nido Taniam)
We constantly talk about auto walas and rickshaw walas harassing the NE people but what do you do when it's someone who deals with people from all over the world from different backgrounds and ethnicity daily? If they cannot be sensitive then how do we expect others to be respectful?"

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