Amid a public outrage, the Mumbai Police booked leading diamond conglomerate Hare Krishna Exports Pvt. Ltd. on Thursday for discrimination and denying a young man a job because he was a Muslim.
The Maharashtra government has said it will order an investigation.
The action comes a day after > The Hindu reported that MBA graduate Zeshan Ali Khan was denied a job by the company because of his religion.
“Thanks for your application. We regret to inform you that we hire only non-Muslim candidates,” was the reply he received on Tuesday. After Mr. Khan decided to go public with the company’s response, a public outrage erupted on social media, forcing HKE Pvt. Ltd.to apologise.
Exporter blames human resources trainee
Maharashtra Minority Minister Eknath Khadse on Thursday condemned the denial of a job for a Muslim youth on the basis of his religion and said the government would conduct an inquiry. “We will see that there is strongest punishment possible under available laws,” Mr. Khadse said.
Based on a complaint by 22-year-old MBA, Zeshan Ali Khan, an FIR was registered at a police station in suburban Kurla against major diamond conglomerate and exporter Hare Krishna Exports Pvt. Ltd. The firm has been booked under Sections 153 B (1) (b) (c) of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with hurting religious sentiments, denying or depriving a person his rights and causing disharmony. According to police, the offence is punishable with up to three-year imprisonment.
Acting on a complaint by social activist Shezhad Poonawalla, the National Commission for Minorities has also sent a notice to the company and directed an enquiry. Mr. Poonawalla, also a lawyer, said the incident was a “blatant violation of the spirit of the Constitution that mandates equality and absence of religious discrimination through Articles 14 and Article 25.”
Savji Dholakia, founder and chairman of HKE, contended that the “erroneous email” was “a mistake” committed by a woman trainee, Dipika Tike, who joined the “firm’s HR team only two months ago” and was not aware of the company’s culture. “She did not realise the gravity of her blunder,” Mr. Dholakia told The Hindu. “There is no official policy or rule in the company that prevents people of a particular caste or religion from getting employment. We had no intention of appearing biased or hurting sentiments,” he said.
Mr. Dholakia’s explanation did not soften the outrage on social media with many charging that the “trainee employee” was being made a “scapegoat” for the firm’s offence. Some also questioned her status as a trainee, saying she was a full-time employee.
Well known among diamond circles, Mr. Dholakia hit the headlines last year after he gifted his employees in Surat more than 400 cars, over 200 flats and jewellery sets as incentive on Diwali.
Arguing that a “diverse workforce spreading across States, religion, caste and languages” and a “harmonious culture” existed in his two-decade-old company, Mr. Dholakia said he employed 71 Muslims. The company has around 8,500 on its rolls, he added.
There was speculation that Ms. Tike had been sacked by the company as a punitive measure. However, there was no confirmation of this. Asked if the company would take any action against her, Mr. Dholakia retorted: “What will we gain out of it?”
Mr. Dholakia has received the GJEPC Export award for 2010-11 from Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister.
Political parties, including the NCP and AAP, condemned the incident and called for a thorough investigation and strictest possible action against the exporter.