Manipur Woman Alleges Racial Harassment at Delhi Airport


New Delhi: A woman from Manipur has accused an immigration officer at Delhi airport of saying she “didn’t look Indian”, the latest incident underscoring racial prejudice and ignorance about people from the Northeast.

According to Monika Khangembam, a corporate communications professional who was travelling to South Korea for a conference, she was asked questions like, “How many states are there in India?”

Monika took to social networking site Facebook to express her anger over the alleged racist behaviour of the immigration official. The country has in recent years seen a spate of attacks in major cities targeting people from the Northeast, whose physical appearance is often different from people in the rest of the country.

“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 Indianness. 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’,” she wrote in the post.

According to her, the immigration official also asked details about Manipur even though she was carrying an Indian passport.

“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. I said I was really getting late and he goes like, ‘aircraft aapko chodke kahi nahi jaa rahi. Aaram se jawab do’ (the aircraft will not fly without you).”

Monika is not the only person from the Northeast to have faced such racism at the airport. On her Facebook post, others shared their experiences. “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,” she wrote on her Facebook page.