Kolkata: The management of Kolkata’s iconic Indian Coffee House lodged a police complaint against a student on Friday for writing "objectionable" and "false" social media post and allegedly running a smear campaign after a row over speaking Bengali at the cafe on Wednesday.
The incident took place when a student, Indrani Chakraborty, went to Indian Coffee House located opposite the prestigious Presidency University at College Street, along with her friends and an altercation broke out over charging her phone.
When Chakraborty requested the staff to let her charge her phone at the cash counter, she was stopped by one of the staff members. She pointed out that she was allowed to charge her phone on earlier occasions and argued that she needed it for work, following which a quarrel ensued.
In her Facebook post, the woman alleged that staff asked her to take it up with the “owner of the place” and when one of her friends went to speak to him, the latter said that he does not understand Bengali. He was then explained the entire issue allegedly in Hindi, said her social media post.
However, the woman in her post alleged that her friend was met with a rude response from the 'owner'. “I won’t repeat myself, please leave my office,” he allegedly said. Then pointing towards another staff member who accompanied them to the 'owner's cabin, allegedly said, “These people are Bengalis. In this room, speaking in Bengali is not allowed. If you want to speak in Bengali, leave the room.”
However, the management of Indian Coffee House has denied the charges levelled against them by Chakraborty and taken umbrage at her Facebook post, which it dubbed “false”.
“The staff prevented her from charging her cellphone citing the management’s new rule. The staff told her that he doesn’t understand Bengali and asked her to speak in Hindi. This irked the student and she asked him what he is doing in Bengal when he can’t understand or speak Bengali. Upon hearing the commotion, I rushed and resolved the issue. I came to know later that she gave a false narrative of the whole incident on social media. I went through her social media post and was shocked to see that she tried to give it a political turn. Her post is extremely objectionable as she tried to create a division between Hindi and Bengali-speaking communities,” secretary of Indian Coffee House management Tapan Pahari told News18.
“We have staff from across India. Some are from Uttar Pradesh and some from Bihar. Therefore, it is not necessary that everyone will understand Bengali. One of my staff members told her that he doesn’t understand Bengali and requested her to speak in Hindi, which triggered the whole incident. It all started with charging a cellphone. Earlier, we allowed customers to charge their phones, but recently stopped it over an issue that happened in the past. We never thought that such trivial issues will become a matter of controversy. Therefore, considering the reputation of Indian Coffee House we have lodged a police complaint,” Pahari added.
The complaint was lodged at Amherst Street police station and an inquiry has been initiated. “We have asked both the parties to submit their explanations, but haven’t received any explanation from either parties yet,” a senior police officer said.
The history of Coffee House at College Street can be traced to Albert Hall, which was founded in April 1876. After 66 year, the Coffee Board decided to start a joint from the Albert Hall in 1942.
Among the Coffee House's renowned past and present patrons include Bengali poets, authors, painters, scholars and filmmakers like Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Chandra Bose, Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen and Ritwik Ghatak.