July 06, 2017

India: Room denied to inter-faith couple at Olive Residency a Banglore Hotel

The Telegraph

No room for inter-faith couple
K.M. Rakesh

Shafeek Subaida Hakkim and his wife Divya DV

Bangalore, July 5: A Bangalore hotel has been accused of denying a room to a married couple from Kerala on the ground that the man is a Muslim and the woman a Hindu.

The couple had arrived in the city by bus from Kerala yesterday and taken an autorickshaw in search of a hotel room in nearby Sudhama Nagar in central Bangalore to change and freshen up before an interview the woman had in the afternoon.

However, the receptionist at Olive Residency, a low-budget hotel located in a densely populated area, refused to accommodate them when he realised that the couple belonged to different religions.

Shafeek Subaida Hakkim and his wife Divya D.V. told the young receptionist that they were married and needed a room just for some time to get ready for the interview. When the receptionist, Kaluvariah, in his 20s, didn't relent, they had to find another hotel in the neighbourhood.

Shafeek, the editor and publisher of Ami Books in Kozhikode, and Divya, a research scholar, told Kaluvariah that they would file a police complaint. However, the couple left for Kerala in the evening without lodging a complaint.

Shafeek posted his ordeal in Malayalam on Facebook and pointed to a "mindset" that is the basis of the recent "sectarian murders" across the country.

"He (Kaluvariah) looked confused after checking our identify cards. He then asked: 'How can we give you a room?' He said: 'We can't give a room to a Hindu and a Muslim,'" Shafeek wrote. "More than being an inter-faith couple, his major problem appeared to be how a Muslim man could be with a Hindu woman. His every word and look raised that question."

"What we need to fear is the mindset that is working through this person, which is the basis of the sectarian murders that are taking place in India now," Shafeek added.

Repeated calls to his cellphone by this newspaper went unanswered.

Contacted by The Telegraph, receptionist Kaluvariah narrated another version.

"We have no issues with people from different religions staying in one room. I suspected something was wrong when they asked for a room for 30 minutes," said Kaluvariah, who has been criticised along with the hotel on social media.

"We are always suspicious of people who walk in with no luggage and ask for rooms for a few hours. The usual practice is to deny rooms to such people," he added.

According to Kaluvariah, there was also a communication problem. "They were talking in Malayalam, which I don't follow. And I doubt they understood me as I was speaking in Kannada, the only language I know," he said.

Hotel owner Shiv Madhav said the receptionists had been given strict instructions not to give rooms to anyone "suspicious".

"From what I gather, there has been some miscommunication because of a language handicap on both sides. Otherwise, we never deny rooms to guests from different religions," Madhav said.

The hotel owner said it was "unfortunate" that the couple "made a big issue as the intent was not to deny room to an inter-faith couple".

"The receptionist was not satisfied with the way they came in with no luggage. That raised his suspicion and he denied them a room," Madhav said.

Many Internet users were unsparing with their remarks against the hotel.

V. Iyer wrote on Google reviews, a facility linked to the search engine, that a civil lawsuit should be filed against the hotel. He questioned if the hotel would turn away Muslim guests only or would it do the same with Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians or Sikhs.

Swarnesh Rao wrote: "Idiots, don't spoil the city's name at the international level. You neither represent locals, nor native Bangaloreans."