In yet another incident involving traditional clothing, a film maker was on Saturday reportedly denied entry into a city mall for wearing a dhoti. In a Facebook post today, film maker Ashish Avikunthak claimed he was denied entry by mall authorities for wearing a dhoti. The post by the film maker read: “Denying entry into the neo-colonial clubs of Kolkata is nothing new. But today I was denied entry into the …. mall because I was wearing dhoti (which I have been wearing for the last 26 years). On resisting and questioning I was told that we have orders because of security reasons to prohibit entry of people in lungi and dhoti. I was eventually allowed in because I could argue in English and assert myself.”
Avikunthak further said: “This is unambiguously a new low for this city. Private clubs have always created hierarchies and distinctions because of clothing. Now public spaces are also threatened and a culture of segregation based on class is being practised unhindered. I write this with a sense of deep disgust.”
Meanwhile, when news agency PTI got in touch with Avikunthak and asked for his opinion on the same, he said: “What have I to say about the whole incident? Please go through my Facebook post which has narrated the entire consequence.” However, Avikunthak’s companion Debaleena Sen, told PTI, “We were about to enter the mall when Ashis was stopped by security guards who said he can’t be allowed inside since he was wearing a dhoti. As we argued and Ashis spoke in English the mall officials came and allowed him in. Probably after hearing him speak in English, they were assured that he belonged to higher social profile and can be allowed in. We immediately came out in protest.”
The film makers friend claimed she was recording a video of the whole incident on her mobile, which the mall employees asked her not to. When the mall authorities were contacted by PTI, they denied the charges saying security personnel at the gate had, in fact, asked the film maker to wait and went to the supervisor to seek his opinion. He was then allowed in.
This incident comes close on the heels of one Tailin Lyngdoh from Meghalaya who was asked by Delhi Golf Club to leave the dining hall because the club’s staffers believed her traditional outfit looked like a “maid’s uniform”. The incident sparked widespread outrage with Union minister Kiren Rijiju termed it as a clear case of racial discrimination.