Kashmiri student was allegedly harassed and discriminated against by an OYO hotel in Delhi. The staff and police claim otherwise and refute his statement. OYO has released an official statement of clarification.
Nauman Rafiq, a law student at University of Delhi (DU) alleged that his father and sister were harassed at a Delhi OYO hotel after they identified as belonging from Kashmir.
The staff of Asha Residency hotel, an OYO registered four-star hotel in Vijay Nagar, near North Campus apparently stated that as per police orders, guests from Jammu and Kashmir “are not allowed to check-in.” Rafiq in conversation with Firstpost, explained, “They asked for proof of identity. After we furnished it, they asked where the ID is from. I said ‘Jammu and Kashmir’. They said they don’t allow people from Afghanistan, Balochistan, Jammu and Kashmir, and Pakistan to stay in their hotel. They said it is part of their policy.”
The hotel staff reiterated that they had orders from the police to not allow Kashmiri residents to check-in. Nauman emphasised on the hotel’s rejection before checking for his father’s ID. He said, “They did not even ask for my father’s ID, they just said that you are from Kashmir, and we have orders from the police to not allow people from Jammu and Kashmir, we are just complying with the orders.”
Rafiq pressed the staff to show him written proof of the policy but they claimed the OYO app has all the literature but due to “weak internet it might not show right now’. “It’s very humiliating. When I called the OYO helpline, I was told the policy is that nationals from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan are barred from checking into the hotel,” he said. They later apologised for the inconvenience and offered to shift his booking to another hotel.
The issue gained momentum as social media tagged OYO and demanded an answer for the discrimination. Thereafter, OYO apologised to Nauman and ensured that they would dig deeper into the situation. OYO customer care and the Escalation Executive Manager, Pradeep Kumar interacted with Indiatoday and stated that no such policy states that Kashmiri residents cannot be allowed to check-in.
The Station House Officer (SHO), Karan Singh Rana of the Mukherjee Nagar Police Station completely refuted the claim and stated that the guests were unable to provide the original required documents and had no relation to them being from Kashmir. However, Nauman stated that his father carried four original documents with him but were not even asked for by the staff.
OYO’s senior guest experience manager, Hari Harpande refuted any such discriminatory policy surrounding residents of Jammu and Kashmir. “The property had denied entry on the basis of some restrictions by local authorities. The feedback of the concerned person has already been submitted and our ground team is working on it,”
The hotel manager Rahul Gautam quoted to The Print stating, “During one of the checks, a beat police officer verbally told us that while the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests are going on and the Shaheen Bagh issue remains, we should not allow customers from Kashmir and Ladakh.” Several media houses are in possession of Gautam’s audio clips emphasising on the “verbal orders” and continuing, “Dekhiye, humara jo hotel hai na, wo police ground ke saath me hai” (Our Hotel is adjacent to the police ground)
Gautam further added that they have orders from the Delhi Police. Talking of their policies he said, “We don’t even accept couples, be it married or unmarried. We don’t have any personal animosity against you, sir. You are also Indian, we are also Indians.”
Hotel receptionist, Balvinder Rana denied any charges of discrimination, he stated how Rafiq had a Delhi Identity Card however the other two guests failed to show a valid ID card. Upon asking the boundaries of an ID card, he informed that the cards and photographs did not match with the guests. Refuting the hotel’s policy of discriminating against people from certain countries he adds, “I can show you the proof, I have many photocopies of people’s ID cards from Jammu and Kashmir. This is a small issue, let’s not blow it out of proportion,” The hotel’s official page mentions the policy rule of ‘No unmarried couples allowed’ and ‘only Indian Nationals allowed’. “The only requirement to stay at a hotel is original documents,” Rana said, continuing, “ It is the habit of some guests to get aggressive at every little thing. They immediately accused us of discrimination when we asked for a valid ID card.”
Rafiq has decided to seek legal action. Talking of such discriminatory actions in Delhi University and PG’s against those belonging from Jammu and Kashmir, he says, “ I’ll go to court. People who undergo all this humiliation don’t have redressal. OYO shifts blame to hotel, hotel shifts blame to local authorities, local authorities deny involvement. There is no proper redressal mechanism. OYO just apologises every time and that’s about it.”
“I want the courts to issue guidelines for states to frame redressal mechanisms in such cases, And because not everyone can approach courts or even know their rights fully, I want to create a forum of lawyers who will be available to help victims of such discrimination,” Rafiq added.
OYO released an official statement stating the act to be a violation of basic principles of OYO’s ethics. The statement read: “OYO Hotels & Homes is committed to bringing quality living experiences to all our guests from around the world, irrespective of their religion, race, caste and gender. Any such action that tantamounts to discrimination is a serious violation of the basic principles of OYO’s ethos of doing business. As immediate steps, we have temporarily suspended operations with the asset partner.”
Feature Image Credits: The Tribune