'They closed my bank a/c because I am a Muslim'
DU student alleges bank manager hurled abuse, got him searched inside office; complains to Minority Commission.
New Delhi: He went to find out why his ATM card was not working. He came back insulted and abused. His fault? He was a Muslim. Khalid Ali Abbasi, an 18-year-old Political Science student of Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, had gone to Syndicate Bank's Yamuna Vihar branch on January 22 to enquire why his ATM card was not working.
An argument broke out with branch manager Mahesh Chand Sharma. Abbasi alleged Sharma hurled abuses and insulted him in front of a room full of people because of his religion. The manager reportedly passed anti-Muslim remarks and blocked Abbasi's account permanently.
"He was rude and said, 'tum Mullaon (Muslims) ko kuch pata nahi hota. Saare Mulle do number ka kaam karte hain aur bank mein paisa rakhte hain. Ruk, tera account abhi bandh karta hoon (You Muslims don't know anything. You people indulge in illegal businesses and then save money in the banks. Wait, I will block your account right now)," says Abbasi.
Reportedly, when the DU student had asked the bank manager why his ATM card was not working, he was told it takes 24 hours for the card to get activated. Dissatisfied with the reply, Abbasi pressed for further explanation following which the manager lost his temper and passed communal remarks.
The manager then called the security guard and ordered him to throw Abbasi out of the bank. "It was then that I called the police. After that Mukesh Sharma, the guard, said: Mulle yahaan se bhaag ja (Run away from here, you Muslim). When I didn't leave and told the manager that he could not treat me like this as I have the right to seek information about my account, the branch manager threatened to block my account," said Abbasi.
Abbasi had a savings account (no. 91302190001530) in Yamuna Vihar branch of Syndicate Bank.
When MiDDAY contacted branch manager Sharma, he refuted the allegations and said it was all concocted. "Abbasi had come complaining that his card hadn't been activated. I told him that it takes 24 hours for an ATM card to get activated. He started throwing tantrums. He said he was not keen on opening an account with Syndicate Bank in the first place.
Then he threw his passbook on my table and told me to close his account, saying he was not interested in banking with us. Since things were getting ugly, I had to call the security and then the police. As far as anti-Muslim remarks are concerned, I am a very secular and educated person and would never use such language in public or person," he said. Abbasi has lodged his complaint both with the Delhi Minorities Commission and the Reserve Bank of India.
Desperately seeking homes
In September 2010, an investigation carried out by media website Cobrapost revealed that Muslims in Indian metro cities were finding it difficult to get accommodation. There were certain societies in some cities that refused to rent out the flats to members of particular communities. A month before this investigation, there were reports in media that Bollywood actor Emrann Hashmi was barred from purchasing a flat in a fashionable locality of Mumbai after administrator of the cooperative society came to know that he was a Muslim. This happened even after Hashmi had paid the earnest money for the purchase of a flat. The actor later filed a complaint with the State Minority Commission.
There have also been reports that even in the National Capital, not just average Muslims but even well-placed professionals like engineers, doctors and journalists face discrimination when it comes to finding a place in city's upscale residential colonies.
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