"No ethnic group should ever be held responsible.”
There are concerns that US Indians could increasingly be targeted for hate crimes due to the Covid-19 variant that was first identified in India.
The Southeast Asian community suffered severe backlash in 2020 when former President Donald Trump identified the original strain of Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus”, alternating it with the “Wuhan virus”.
Stop AAPI Hate was created in March 2020 to document Covid-related hate crimes against the Asian American community.
Between March 2020 and March 2021, the website has logged 6,603 incidents of hate-based violence or intimidation.
Twelve per cent of incidents involved physical violence, while verbal abuse was involved in more than two-thirds of reported cases.
The site allows victims to self-report hate-based crimes in several languages, including Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said she would not be surprised to see a backlash against US Indians as the term “India virus” makes its way into the US lexicon.
She said: “The language and verbiage that’s being used creates racial animus against individuals.
“Viruses are part of the human condition. No ethnic group should ever be held responsible.”
The B.1.617.2 variant was first identified in Maharashtra in October 2020 and is believed to be responsible for India’s second wave.
The variant has spread to 40 other countries, including the UK and US.
On Twitter, netizens blamed the “India virus” for another possible lockdown.
One user blamed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for mishandling the pandemic, posting:
“If the cockwobble had closed the f*****g airports and stopped allowing people to fly in from India we wouldn’t have to listen to his s***.
“Just sounds like he’s going for another lockdown but blaming the India virus.”
Another tweet read: “India triple mutant virus, your country and government suck.
“The whole world is recovering, but India virus are spreading out like crazy… Take the vaccine for f**k’s sake.”
News outlets are also using the term “India virus” instead of using the variant’s scientific name.
One person accused The New York Times of racism, noting the headline:
“Covid-19: W.H.O. Warns India’s Homegrown Virus Variant May Be Highly Contagious.”
Manjusha Kulkarni told India-West that South Asian Americans made up 1.8% of the cases reported on Stop AAPI Hate.
Chinese Americans made up the majority.
One New Hampshire resident reported:
“A neighbour kicked on our apartment’s door, screaming racial slurs (“towel head”), insults and abusive language.
“She threatened us to ‘Take it to the streets’.”
A person from Washington state said:
“My 7-year-old daughter was approached by another girl of the same age, blonde, shoulder length hair, bluish eyes.
“The conversation started out innocently about playing in lakes.
“Then the blonde girl asked my daughter if she jumped into a lake in India and swam all the way to the US.
“She asked her where she came from and if she should go back.
“My daughter was visibly upset and responded with ‘Why would you ask that? I was born here’.”
A Seattle resident reported: “A man insulted me on the bus saying that I was selfish for being in America eating at Whole Foods because I should be in my own country because it’s very poor and needs skilled people like me.
“He said that we Indians were smart but very selfish and that we should be helping our own country and not the USA.”