Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has threatened to port his mobile number from Airtel after the mobile company agreed to entertain an Islamophobic customer, who refused to engage with a Muslim executive of the company.
Taking to Twitter Abdullah wrote, “Dear @Airtel_Presence this conversation is genuine (I’ve seen the timeline myself). I refuse to pay another penny to a company that condones such blatant bigotry. I’m beginning the process of porting my number to another service provider & canceling my DTH & Broadband.”
Dear @Airtel_Presence this conversation is genuine (I’ve seen the timeline myself). I refuse to pay another penny to a company that condones such blatant bigotry. I’m beginning the process of porting my number to another service provider & canceling my DTH & Broadband. pic.twitter.com/BZxJOaEsN6
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) June 18, 2018
Activist Kavita Krishnan too demanded a clarification from Airtel on the issue of bigotry as she tweeted, “Ditto. @Airtel_Presence @airtelindia we too are your customers and are waiting for you to publicly clear your stand, defend your employee Shoaib who was subjected to discrimination on grounds of religion (unconstitutional), tell the bigoted customer you stand by #Shoaib.”
Ditto. @Airtel_Presence @airtelindia we too are your customers and are waiting for you to publicly clear your stand, defend your employee Shoaib who was subjected to discrimination on grounds of religion (unconstitutional), tell the bigoted customer you stand by #Shoaib https://t.co/TDjE31HI4t
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) June 18, 2018
A user known as Pooja Singh had posted a tweet complaining of poor services by one of the Airtel executives. To which an Airtel executive, Shoaib, responded to her with the message, “Hey, I most definitely appreciate you reaching out here! We’ll take a closer look into that & get back shortly with more information. Thank you, Shoaib.”
The bigoted woman, whose Twitter timeline is replete with hate messages towards Islam and Muslims, said that she did not want to speak to a Muslim while posting disparaging comments for the Quran, the Holy Book of Muslims. She wrote, “Dear Shohaib, as you’re a Muslim and I have no faith in your working ethics because Kuran may have different version for customer service, thus requesting you to assign a Hindu representative for my request. Thanks (sic).”
Far from admonishing the bigot, Airtel then tried to pacify her by asking her to provide the company executives with a convenient time and suitable numbers so that they could resolve her problem. At no point did Airtel firmly state that it had taken a dim view of her bigotry. Instead, a non-Muslim executive of Airtel wrote, “Hi Pooja! As discussed, please let me know what days & time frames work best for you so we can talk. Further, please share an alternate number so that I can assist you further with this. Thank you, Gaganjot.”
This left many angry including historian Irfan Habib, who wrote, “Can’t believe this is for real and some of us have degenerated to this dangerous level.”
In the face of public outrage, Airtel now has finally issued a statement making its stand on bigotry clear. It wrote to the bigoted customer; ‘Dear Pooja, at Airtel, we absolutely do not differentiate between customers, employees and partners on the basis of caste or religion. We would urge you to do the same. Both Shoaib and Gaganjot are part of our customer resolution team. If any customer contacts us for an ongoing service issue then the first available service executive responds in the interest of time. On your query, we will get back to you as soon as there is an update. Thanks – Himanshu, Airtel Response Team Lead.
Earlier in April, a VHP worker, followed by at least half of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet colleagues, had refused to travel in an Ola cab after learning that the driver was Muslim. The taxi-hiring company had issued a terse response to the bigot reiterating that India was still a secular country. It had said, “Ola, like our country, is a secular platform, and we don’t discriminate our driver partners or customers basis their caste, religion, gender or creed. We urge all our customers and driver partners to treat each other with respect at all times.”