“My boss said I could take leave Wednesday. It’s Bakrid,” says Zishan Khan, 24, eagerly looking forward to the celebrations. A year ago, Khan’s face was splashed across news channels after a letter from a diamond export firm went viral. On May 19, 2015, Khan says he faced a “moment of huge disappointment” after an official response from an export firm, denying him a job vacancy on religious grounds. By the evening of May 21, Khan had national anchors asking him questions, his academic leanings, even “opinion” on Muslims in the country.
An FIR with the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) was registered under Section 153 (B) (1) (c) and officials from the diamond firm were booked for assertions prejudicial to national integration. “It was all a mad frenzy,” Khan says, adding, “Looking back, things did take a good turn for me professionally but the case is yet to make any progress.” Today, Khan has finished a year of work and been promoted to the post of an executive from a trainee position.
In the days after the coverage, Khan says, he got a call from Gautam Adani Group and was soon given an appointment with the Adani boss himself. “I have a management degree on Business Strategy. The interviews were long and I got through,” he recalls. In the past six months, he has been working on the company’s West Coast Sales Operations as an executive (intern) and learning the ropes. “It involved a lot of traveling to markets affiliated to Hazira port and interacting with a variety of clients,” he adds, saying a corporate environment doesn’t discriminate on religious grounds.
“While I am on a call, it doesn’t matter. It’s kaam se kaam rakho.” In the new term, he has just got a promotion, and his new brief, says Khan, allows more exposure. “The work is appreciated. In my office, we have a diverse bunch of employees. Even now, there will be someone coming to me and saying he or she is aware of my episode and expressing sympathy. My new professional circle, just like my friends back home, is made of mixed people and everyone is on my side. What happened was wrong. They come to me and say they are proud that I took a stand. It feels nice to hear that, and assuring.”
During Ramzaan, he says, his first as a professional, things took a good turn. “My colleagues were very understanding and my boss asked me to leave early on days I wanted to. The hard work I put in gets appreciated and I learn a lot, every day. There is always so much exposure and fresh assignments. In a corporate environment, it is one’s Key Result Areas (KRAs) that matter.”
In the past one year, Khan has visited the police station several times and has been conveyed that his complaint was yet to be chargesheeted. “The last thing I know is that seven were accused, including the lady who reverted to me from the firm. She was a trainee and am sure it was just the firm’s mandate she was expressing,” says Khan. In the past few months, every time there is any incident of discrimination against Muslims, Khan gets a call. “I do feel strange. But I repeat what I feel. Muslims have a long way to go. It applies to Muslims in India too. We have a long way to go.”