An MBA graduate from Mumbai has alleged that he has been denied employment by an export firm because he is a Muslim. According to Zeeshan Khan, 22, the company, Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd, sent him an email stating that they “only hire non-Muslim candidates”. The firm, however, denied any discrimination and blamed the email on “individual human error”.
Khan claimed that 15 minutes after he sent his job application to Hari Krishna Exports on May 19, he received an email from a trainee in the firm’s HR department, Dipika Tike, which said, “We regret to inform you that we only hire non-Muslim candidates.” Khan posted a snapshot of this email on his Facebook page, which went viral.
“I completed my final semester exams last week… I came across information regarding a recruitment drive being undertaken by a leading diamond and jewellery exporter named Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd, and thought it would be a great start. I, along with two classmates, Mukund Mani and Omkar Bansode, applied for the job,” Khan told The Indian Express.
He said his two classmates from D Y Patil College were called for an interview the next day and were eventually given placements. “I lost the opportunity just because I have Khan as a surname,” he alleged.
When contacted, Hari Krishna Exports blamed the HR trainee.
“It is a clear case of individual human error. Our company has no such policies where recruitments are done on religious grounds. We are against discrimination. In fact, we currently have 70 Muslim workers in our company… Dipika is new. She was unaware of our policies, thus she made a mistake in haste,” said Bhaskar Joshi, a company representative.
But Khan’s elder sister, who did not want to be named, countered: “The company is trying to blame the employee, making her a scapegoat. That is not fair… An employee only does what a company asks her to do… She was just following the protocol. You cannot blame her.” She said Khan’s two classmates who were hired have declined to pick up their offer letters.
According to Tike’s LinkedIn profile, she has four years experience in the HR industry and has been employed with Hari Krishna for three months. The company said it was providing counselling to Tike.
“I sincerely apologise for my mistake. I was unaware of the company’s policies. I didn’t witness any Muslim recruits in the three months of my training. I replied instantly to the mail, in haste,” Tike told The Indian Express.
She, however, added that the number of Muslim employees in the firm is negligible.
Hari Krishna Exports is designated as a ‘three-star export firm’ by the government.
The firm has won a gem jewellery export promotion council trophy for 11 consecutive years. According to the company, it manufactures 40,000 carats of cut and polished diamonds every month, and has businesses in 50 countries. “It is very unfortunate that a Muslim is being denied an opportunity in the state. We will inquire into the incident, take all information about what has happened and why it happened, and take punitive action against those at fault,” said Eknath Khadse, Maharashtra’s Minister for Minority Affairs.
Aamir Edresy, president of the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP), an organisation that works to provide employment opportunities to Muslim youth, said, “Employers rejecting candidates on the basis of religion is common. We face this issue on a regular basis… Quite a few companies are doing this openly now.”
M A Khalid, secretary of the All India Milli Council, called for protests against such companies. “Such discrimination will increase umemployment amongst Muslims,” he said.
Owner known for expensive Diwali gifts to staff
Hari Krishna Exports is owned by Surat-based Savji Dholakia. Savji shot to fame last year when he gifted his employees cars, flats and jewellery as Diwali bonus. Savji is the nephew of Govind Dholakia, founder of Ramkrishna Exports, a leading diamond export firm. When contacted, Govind Dholakia said he had not been able to speak with his nephew over the issue. “But, I will definitely tell him to issue a notice to his Mumbai HR department employee who had given such a controversial answer.”