The Himalaya Mall, among the five biggest malls in Ahmedabad, on the Eid Day on August 9, 2013 announced a fee of Rs 20 from visitors from the minority community, to be returned to them only if they bought anything from the mall, and retained if they didn’t.
Many felt it was discrimination against a specific group on Eid when footfalls at the mall peaked.
“The security personnel were being selective. We saw people walking past without paying any fee. When we asked the security guards, they said that they have orders to follow and asked us to pay up. We’re shocked,” said Saiyad Shaikh, a resident of Delhi Chakla, who had come to the mall with his family.
Iliyas Ansari, who stays in Shahpur, said, “We’re willing to pay entry fee provided the mall charges it from everybody. Why discriminate against just one community?”
The manager (operations) of Himalaya Mall, said that it was a routine move to check visitors on a busy day. “We had employed the same mechanism in the past to keep troublemakers out. We are planning to charge entry fee during the coming festive season including Diwali. The fee is being returned if any purchase is made, so the entry is practically free,” she said.
Mall officials said that against a routine daily footfall of around 10,000, Eid Day saw a surge in the numbers to around 30,000. About the selective demand of entry fee, she said the administration had decided to exclude women and senior citizens only. “There was no attempt to exclude anybody or charge specific persons. And, Rs 20 is hardly a deterrent,” she said.
However, a distinct pattern could be observed on the Eid Day in which entry was allowed. Youth from specific age groups of the minority community were being scrutinized and asked to pay the fee while whereas women and many others were allowed to walk in without being charged.
Mall officials said last year during Eid they saw two group clashes inside the mall and a glass wall was broken. On Friday, the number of security personnel was increased and a team of policemen was deployed inside as well as outside the mall as authorities did not want any “trouble”.
Any discrimination on the basis of religion is unconstitutional and should not be tolerated. Such communal profiling shows that a deep divide persists in Gujarat, notwithstanding chief minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Sadbhavana’ mission.
European Parliament Member Questions Modi’s Inequality Against Non-Hindu’s
In the meantime, after Modi becoming the PM, Member of the European Parliament Izaskun Bilbao Barandica raised question in the European Parliament on Modi’s remarks against Non-Hindus in India. The question has been directed to the European Commission to take action.
The question raised is:
In May 2014, Narendra Modi of the BJP was elected PM of India. Modi has a highly problematic history of racism, and has been accused of involvement in the deadly Gujarat Hindu-Muslim riots of 2002 that left over 1 000 members of the Muslim community dead.
Modi was chief minister of the state at the time. In an interview with the New York Times in 2002, Modi said that his only regret was that he didn’t manage the media better. Following this interview, the US imposed a visa ban on Modi and the United Kingdom announced a 10-year boycott. During his electoral campaign, Modi reiterated his rhetoric on immigration, calling for all non-Hindus to leave India and go back to their own countries. India’s population includes a large number of minority groups who typically live in extremely poor conditions.
What steps will the EU take, in cooperation with the Indian Government, to address the issue of inequality in India?
Is this issue of social, racial and religious discrimination part of the ongoing EU-India Free Trade Agreement negotiations?
Considering the fact that national policies on minorities could potentially pose a threat to peace and security in South Asia, is the EU pursuing a collective agreement with countries in the region to address such concerns?