Exclusive: Taj Vivanta Staff Harasses & Humiliates 3 Muslim Men Who Checked In, Indirectly Accuses Them Of Being Terrorists
The victims narrated their ordeal to NewsCentral24x7.
Sahabuddin (28), Imran Hussain Laskar (25) and Zahid Islam Barbhuiya (25) missed their flight to Delhi from Guwahati on Friday. Next, they checked in Vivanta by Taj, a 5-star hotel at Khanapara. The trio — two school teachers and one non-commissioned Army Medical College employee — allege that the staff was hostile towards them and even implied that they were terrorists.
The three friends are from Barak Valley in Sothern Assam. “Zahid and I were supposed to reach Guwahati on October 12 early morning. But, our train ran late by more than four hours. This is the reason why we could not catch our 11.20 am flight. We were going to Goa via Delhi,” Sahabuddin told NewsCentral24x7. Laskar who works as a dental hygienist in the AMC in Imphal, Manipur had reached Guwahati two days ago and was supposed to join them for the trip.
After missing the flight, their ordeal escalated when they took a room at the Guwahati hotel at 2 pm and requested the staff to provide them with an extra bed. Till 5 pm they were not given the bed and their bathroom door was also not fixed, even after repeated requests. “We were annoyed and came to speak to the staff at the reception. But, they were very rude. We wanted to use the pool. Neither they allowed us to use nor they spoke to us properly. The security guards kept following us,” Sahabuddin, said.
Upset with this behaviour, they decided to leave the hotel. “We called the local press club. They gave us a reporter’s number. Coincidentally, he was at the hotel for an event. We wanted to bring the poor service issue to media’s notice,” Laskar told NewsCentral24x7. When the hotel staff noticed them speaking to the press, they were called to the General Manager’s room.
The trio claimed that General Manager Ashwani Anand questioned why they had taken pictures inside the hotel. They claimed that he even snatched Laskar’s phone and asked him to unlock it. “‘You keep AIMIM videos in your phone? Do you listen to (Asaduddin) Owaisi? Why do you have triple talaq debates?’ The manager asked seeing the videos in my gallery and gave me dirty looks,” Laskar said. They wondered why the manager was asking them such questions. “I told him that there was nothing wrong in listening to Owaisi’s speech as he was a parliamentarian and that was just a random video, I even added that I have Modi’s videos on my phone. We asked what was he trying to imply?” Laskar added.
The manager told them that he hailed from Varanasi and was experienced enough to smell something fishy. According to the trio, he even indirectly implied that they were terrorists by saying, “After Mumbai’s Taj Hotel’s bitter experience, we have to be careful of such people (Muslims). I have to call the police. Your activities don’t look normal.”
They felt humiliated but did not want the matter to escalate. The manager, however, had already made up his mind. “I showed him my identity card. I told him that I am an Indian Army official, but he did not pay any heed. He thought that we were terrorists,” Laskar said. While Laskar was detained and his identity card was confiscated, the other two were sent back to their rooms, outside of which security guards were deployed.
Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials visited the hotel and interrogated them and checked their phones, the trio claimed. “They left around midnight as they were satisfied that we weren’t terrorists. Questions related to our source of income, the purpose of visiting Delhi, among other things, were asked,” Sahabuddin said.
They have written a letter to the Taj Group of Hotels and have decided to lodge a complaint with a consumer court. “We wanted to file a writ petition in the High Court but the court is closed now. We are taking our lawyer’s advice on the next course of action,” Barbhuiya told NewsCentral24x7.com.
Barbhuiya and Sahabuddin run NGOs Education & Research Foundation and Paragaon Foundation, respectively, to help poor students seek admission in schools and colleges. Taj Vivanta has not responded to NewsCentral24x7’s email.