Jaipur: A Muslim man and a Hindu woman were not allowed to check into a hotel in Jaipur that they had booked online, after the hotel staff ‘identified’ their religion. The couple was told that the local police had specifically ordered the hotel to deny entry to ‘unmarried couples’ from different religions.
The man, a resident of Rajasthan, was in the capital city of Jaipur for work. He had booked a room for two on Goibibo, an online travel booking app. When he reached the OYO Silverkey 39701 hotel in the Tonk Phatak area on Saturday, he was asked to present his identity card.
“I had reached the hotel alone earlier. While checking-in, the receptionist asked me for the name of the other person who would be accompanying me. From the name, she quickly figured out that my friend is a Hindu,” the Muslim man told The Wire.
“He told me, ‘This is not going to happen. We can’t allow you a room here since you two hail from different religions,'” he said.
The man tried to convince the hotel that there is no such rule that bars two adults from staying together, either on the hotel website or the constitution of India. However, the hotel maintained that the local police had given strict orders to them to not permit interfaith couples.
Speaking to The Wire, OYO Silverkey 39701 hotel manager Govardhan admitted that the hotel had denied entry to the couple, “We politely explained the instructions from local police to not allow interfaith couples in the hotel to the customer. We even helped them book a room at another property. If the couple [interfaith] can present their marriage certificate to us, we have no issue with giving them a room.”
The manager also admitted that the hotel had denied entry to another interfaith couple two months ago. “This was not the first time that we stopped an interfaith couple from staying together in the hotel. Earlier, a Hindu woman had checked into the hotel and then her Muslim friend arrived. We had a lot of trouble handing the matter then,” he added.
However, the police have denied the allegations made by the hotel. In a statement to the Indian Express, commissioner of police Anand Shrivastava said, “No such instructions, either written or verbal, have been issued. They are merely misusing the name of the department.”
Sunil Godara, sub-inspector at the Bajaj Nagar police station in Jaipur said that the hotels had made such guidelines by themselves. “There is only a general rule to not allow any suspects but we haven’t issued any order restricting interfaith couples in the hotels. If the hotels are doing so, it is their own mentality. Our seniors will take action against the hotel owners for misusing our name,” he told The Wire.
The couple said that it was for the first time in their decade-old relationship that they had been questioned on the grounds of their religions. “The whole system is flawed. I don’t understand how can the police issue orders governing what adults can do or not do? It’s so strange that the hotel has no issues with the unmarried couple from the same religion staying together,” the man said.
After the matter came to light, the man was compensated by the travel booking service. “They paid the entire amount back to me and even booked a room at a different property although that hotel was of inferior quality than what I had previously booked. One thing is clear, if they are compensating me that means they were wrong.”
Speaking to Express, OYO Hotels and Homes said, “We have initiated an inquiry into the manger’s actions which resulted in the inconvenience caused to the customer. We sincerely apologise for this unfortunate experience.”
“OYO hotels and homes is committed to bringing quality living experiences to our guests from around the world, irrespective of their race, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, age, etc. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination across all our properties and take immediate strict action, which can also lead to the termination of the contract with asset owners. Any such action that is tantamount to discrimination is a serious violation of the basic principles of OYO’s work policies,” the statement added.