Women's rights activist and communications professional Monika Khangembam was in for a rude shock when an immigration officer at the Indira Gandhi International Airport questioned her nationality as she was from Manipur.
Khangembam, who was travelling to South Korean capital Seoul for work, was allegedly questioned, "Pakka Indian ho?" After the Facebook post went viral, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj intervened and apologised to the woman. She also said that she would speak to Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh about sensitising immigration officials.
In her Facebook post, the woman alleged that the immigration officer repeatedly engaged in racist remarks, once saying that "Indian toh nahi lagti ho" (You don't seem Indian). The woman, while elaborating her ordeal, calls out the officer as a "bully."
In a follow up post, Khangembam explains that what happened to her was racist because she was asked questions not regarding the conference she was supposed to attend, but was made to establish her "Indianness."
"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," she said.
The Northeast community has repeatedly raised the issue regarding racism faced in other parts of India. From racist slurs like "chinki" to being beaten to death, the problem is endemic and yet no permanent solutions have been found. In 2014, a student from Arunachal Pradesh, Nido Taniam, was beaten to death in Delhi over an altercation. In the last same year, Northeast students were attacked by men in Bangalore for not speaking Kannadiga.
Earlier, in 2012, a mass exodus had taken place in Bangalore when Northeastern people were fearing attacks.