‘I Was Denied Groceries, Called a Foreigner’: NE Student in Mysuru

Video Editor: Kunal Mehra
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati

On Saturday, 28 March, an online order I had placed for groceries got cancelled. I have been studying in Mysuru for almost 2 years now and did not go back home to Nagaland during the 21-day lockdown imposed nationwide, to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Since we can go out for essentials, my roommate and I went to the local grocery shop near our house to get some food for the next two days. As everyone else in the queue, we maintained social distancing and waited for our turn. There was a security person checking everyone at the entrance. She checked us after which we were stopped and not allowed to enter the store.

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I asked why we couldn’t enter and what was the reason behind stopping us from entering the store, while letting other customers behind us enter. We were just enquiring and the security replied saying, ‘We don’t accept foreign customers and you are not Indian.’

We were offended and shocked to hear this. Other employees from the shop also came outside and told us that we are not Indians so they cannot allow us in the store.

We then showed our Aadhaar card to the staff as proof of Indian citizenship. They checked but still did not let us enter.

At first, I made them understand that we are from Nagaland in northeast India, and we were college students from nearby. Ironically, we were daily customers in their store and this wasn’t the first time we were coming.

I tried to explain that we are human too and needed groceries just like others to survive the COVID-19 lockdown. We are just students and just like every human and every citizen, we need food. Instead, we were discriminated against.

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Discrimination During COVID-19 Not New

What was most disappointing was that fellow customers were just standing with us in the queue and they didn’t say anything. It is not only me but there are some other people and my friends from the northeastern parts of India, who are also in Mysuru.

We recorded the entire incident and left the store. I then remembered that I had a screenshot of the tweet made by the chief secretary of Nagaland, that stated that if anyone was facing any kind of racial discrimination, we could call the given helpline number.

I called that number and soon after, some ABVP members called and asked us to go to the police station to file a complaint. On our way to the station, we read a report that said an FIR has been filed at the Krishnaraja police station. The staff were taken into custody after that.

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Having lived in Mysuru a long time now, I believe locals are really nice and feel that the incident may have happened by accident. There were some comments made to us that we never pay heed to but we have never before come across such an incident in Mysuru. This discrimination must be stopped.

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