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Patna: A UCO Bank employee of the Mansoor Chak branch in Begusarai, accused of denying cash to a Muslim woman for not removing her hijab, has apologised to her after a video of the incident went viral.
Journalist Meer Faisal shared the video on Twitter, in which a group of bank employees, including the cashier, are seen to be arguing with the woman. The woman cannot be seen in the video but is heard expressing her anger over the employees denying her cash for wearing a hijab.
— Meer Faisal (@meerfaisal01) February 20, 2022
When the video emerged on Twitter on February 20, UCO Bank, in response, said, “The Bank respects the religious sentiments of the citizens and does not discriminate against its esteemed customers on the basis of caste or religion. The Bank is checking the facts on this issue.”
On the next day, the bank manager contacted the family and said that the other employees, who were present there and also accused of denying her cash, wanted to apologise to the woman, according to her family.
The woman’s father, Md Mateen Alam, told The Wire, “The bank employees wanted to come to our house to apologise, but we felt that if they came here, the controversy would further escalate. So we went to the branch of the said bank, where he [the main accused] apologised.”
The family members said that the bank had also sent the suspension order of the said employee, but they appealed to the bank manager not to suspend him on humanitarian grounds.
“Whatever was to happen, has happened. We do not want the matter to get caught any further. The said employee has a family and children. Had he been suspended, his family would have suffered, so we appealed that he should not be suspended,” Mateen told The Wire.
Meanwhile, the Bihar State Minority Commission has written a letter to the bank, asking to investigate the matter and take action against the culprits and issue an advisory not to refuse cash to women who wear hijab to the bank.
In a letter to UCO Bank’s managing director, the Commission said, “It is known from the video going viral on social media that a Muslim woman wearing a hijab went to the UCO Bank branch in Begusarai, Bihar to withdraw money, but the bank employee stopped her from cash withdrawal. This is a very serious matter. Therefore, it is requested that after investigating the matter, appropriate action should be taken against the culprits and an advisory should be issued to all the branches that women wearing hijab should not be refused to withdraw money.”
Leader of opposition and former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav’s office said on Twitter, “What are you doing in Bihar for the sake of the chair? We know that you have pledged your thoughts, policy, principles and conscience to the BJP, but at least take care of the oath you had taken by the Constitution. Arrest the people guilty of this misdeed.”
माननीय मुख्यमंत्री @NitishKumar जी,
कुर्सी की ख़ातिर आप बिहार में यह सब क्या करवा रहे है? माना आपने अपना विचार, नीति, सिद्धांत और अंतरात्मा सब भाजपा के पास गिरवी रख दिया है लेकिन संविधान की जो शपथ ली है कम से कम उसका तो ख़्याल रखिए। इस कुकृत्य के दोषी लोगों को गिरफ़्तार कीजिए। https://t.co/Ryg9FXzOMX
— Office of Tejashwi Yadav (@TejashwiOffice) February 21, 2022
The hijab controversy started in January when a junior college administration in Karnataka barred six Muslim students from entering classrooms for wearing hijabs. Since then the issue has spread to several Karnataka schools and colleges.
In Bihar, it was the first case where a Muslim woman was told to remove hijab for withdrawing cash.
The Wire sent an email to the zonal manager for his response. The story will be updated as and when the manager replies.
This incident happened on February 10. Md Mateen Alam’s daughter had gone to UCO Bank’s Mansoor Chak branch to withdraw money. When she went to the cash counter after filling out the withdrawal slip, the cashier at the counter said that she would have to remove the hijab, only then the cash would be given to her. The woman said that she has been coming to the bank wearing a hijab since the beginning, but never before was she asked to remove it, and so she will not remove the hijab.
Hearing this, the cashier allegedly said that if she does not remove the hijab, then the money will not be given to her.
The woman immediately called her brother Ajmal Khan from the bank itself and narrated the whole incident to him.
Ajmal Khan told The Wire, “She often goes to the bank to withdraw money. She has been going to the bank wearing a hijab since the beginning but she was never asked to remove her hijab. She had her board exams at the beginning of February where she appeared wearing a hijab, but nothing happened there.”
He added, “If the cashier had said lovingly, to remove the hijab, she would have removed it too. But the cashier was very rude, so my sister too was adamant about not removing the hijab.”
“No signature mismatch”
The bank officials earlier said that she was asked to remove her hijab due to a mismatch in signatures.
“There appeared to be differences in signature. So as per rules, the cashier asked the woman to show her face. There is no issue with hijab. The matter is being dragged unnecessarily,” bank manager Ritesh Kumar was quoted by Jagran as saying soon after the video went viral.
However, the family denied any signature mismatch. Ajmal Khan said, “There was no case of signature not matching. It was just a case of not giving cash because of the hijab. After my sister’s call, I asked my father to go to the bank.”
Mateen said, “I went to the bank and told the cashier that this has never happened before, so why is it happening today. If there is any legal letter regarding this, then it should be shown.”
“Seeing the uproar, people gathered and started making videos. Since there is a dispute going on in Karnataka over hijab, I told the cashier that it seems that Karnataka’s disease has come here too, but the law will work in Mansoor Chak. Meanwhile, the manager of the branch came and intervened, and asked the cashier to give the woman cash. We went home with the money,” he said.
“After that we forgot everything. We had no intention of putting the video on social media or making it public. Someone else posted the video on social media, so on February 21, the bank manager contacted us and said that the employee will apologise,” he said.
“We along with the local mukhiyas went to the Mansoor Chak branch where he apologised. Now the matter is sorted,” he added.