Published: 30th March 2020
Here's how this Ladakhi student confronted a racist man who blamed him for the Coronavirus
Stanzin Rabka uploaded a video on Instagram of him confronting a man in a local market in Jammu and gathered the support of people who have faced the same discrimination
A local market in Jammu was beginning to swarm with the chaos that ensued on March 21, the night Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Janata Curfew to contain the Coronavirus outbreak. Stanzin Rabka, a 21-year-old NEET aspirant from Ladakh was waiting in line with a week’s supply of vegetables and grains. A loud man with a bigger basket pushed him and said: “It’s you lot who brought Corona here!”.
Now, Stanzin wasn’t taken aback immediately. The virus outbreak added to years of discrimination faced by the North Eastern and Ladakhi Indians. It was when the man and his friend laughed off his comment that Stanzin realised that he could not let it pass. He says, “The market was crowded that day, not a single person reacted to what he said or expressed solidarity. There were other Ladakhis and a Nepalis in the crowd as well..”
Stanzin pulled out his phone and dared the man to repeat what he said. However, in the video, he denied having said anything and refused to repeat his words. Unlike many who step back in the face of such attacks, Stanzin bravely confronted the man and gathered people’s attention to question his actions. Initially, he posted the video on WhatsApp, it was a friend who asked him to put it up on Instagram so that more people could like himself would be inspired to speak out.
He says, “They have been calling us ‘Chinkis’ and Nepalis because they think we have features similar to Chinese people. Right now with this virus, these narrow-minded people take one look at our faces and blurt whatever they want. But does this change the fact that we are Indian? We were also born here and sing the national anthem just as loudly. Why are law-abiding Indians treated this way?”
The comments under Stanzin’s Instagram video is enough proof of the weight that his actions had. The video went viral and dozens of people shared their experiences and thanked him for not shying away from questioning prejudice. He concludes with a simple question: “If you call yourself an Indian and cannot tell the difference between a fellow citizen and an outsider, how can you continue to call yourself a Hindustani?”