As Manipur-based Mirabai Chanu gets applauded for bringing medal glory from Olympics, fitness enthusiast Ankita Konwar wonders if people from the Northeast need to win medals to be recognised as part of the country. She has already started a conversation by calling out the racist attitude through her recent tweet, and feels it’s time to accept our flaws.
“It’s is not going to change by just one person. I’m just trying to make it a point that these things exist in our society,” says Konwar, 29, who hails from Assam.
Opening up about what pushed her to give words to her thoughts, she tells us, “I know people who call out individuals from Northeast as ‘chinki’; I’ve corrected them many times. Now, I see them coming out and say, ‘We’re so proud of you’. When you see a post like that, you’re like, ‘Oh wow, now you think that we’re a part of India’, but when I’m there with you, then you don’t think so’. It’s only when somebody is winning a medal that you can be a part of the country, so what about the rest of us then.”
Her tweet stems from her personal experiences, which continue till date. “(Even today) people just come on my page and post comments like corona, Chinese, or chinki. It’s hurtful,” rues Konwar, who’s married to actor Milind Soman.
She further goes on to share that it’s not just restricted to social media, but also out on the streets.
“I’ve lived in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. I’ve actually lived with it. When you are walking, people call you names. When you go out with your friends, you are treated in a different way. People are looking at you in a different way,” she shares.
Konwar recalls an incident when she was coming from Maldives and two airport officials just refused to believe that she is from India, despite her showing her passport to them.
“There have also been incidents when you are looking for a place on rent, and when you go to meet them, ‘Oh you are from northeast, maybe you are a drug addict or maybe you will party too much, let’s not rent out the place to you’. I don’t know who made these things, but we all have been putting up with this,” she tells us.
The indifferent attitude is what Konwar faced for her post as well. “So many people are commenting, ‘We’re calling people from Nepal as Nepali. Arrey hum Nepal se nahi hain’. I don’t know what to even say, people are literate, but not educated,” she states.
There are some who disagree with her views, and she asks, “What’s there to disagree when somebody is sharing their experience with you? That doesn’t count. Your disagreement has nothing to do with what I’ve faced my entire life. You can’t come and tell me what I’ve lived was a lie. We can’t close our eyes to things that are happening in front of us. How long will you be sweeping it off? You’ve to be courageous to face the flaws in the system in the country.”
As she starts this conversation, she hopes nobody has to go through what people from the Northeast have been through.
“It’s just so demeaning when you’re going out on the roads, and people look at you in a certain way, comment on your clothes, the way that you talk, call you names, just because you’re from a particular place, or the way you look,” she signs off.