A branch of Bank of Baroda, a public sector bank, in Surat created a controversy after it put up an instruction banning entry of people wearing helmet or burkha. The note, which was pasted on the main entry door of the bank’s branch on Ambaji Road, read: “Please remove your helmet/burkha. No admission with helmet/burkha”.
Notably, the bank is situated near Khapatida Chakla in the walled city area of Surat where a significant number of people from the Muslim community resides. Sources said that over 50 per cent of the customers of bank branch are Muslims.
As locals protested after picture of the bank’s “burkha entry ban” went viral on social media, the officials of the bank removed the word “burkha” from the note and replaced it with “scarf”. The new instruction in Hindi read — “Shakha aur ATM mein helmet/scarf pehankar ana mana hein (Entry to branch and ATM wearing helmet/scarf is not allowed)”.
“The mistake happened in our branch and we immediately rectified it. There was a problem with the word ‘burkha’. So, we replaced it with ‘scarf’. We had used the wrong word. We have put up instruction keeping in mind the security aspect as we are unable to identify people who enter the bank wearing scarves,” Navin Dokhia, the branch manager said.
Meanwhile, Versatile Minority Forum of Surat, a local Muslim outfit, demanded apology from the bank. “Burkha implies Muslim woman. They should have put instruction note saying that persons having their faces covered should not enter the bank premises. We want bank authorities to apologise,” said Babu Pathan, the outfit’s president.