At least 12 private companies have made job offers to Zeshan Ali Khan, 22, the MBA graduate from Mumbai who received a rejection email last week from a diamond exports firm allegedly stating that the company had a policy to recruit non-Muslim candidates only.
Khan, however, has been politely turning down the offers saying that he prefers to get a job on merit, not out of sympathy. “Please don’t offer me jobs out of sympathy. Select me only if I am a deserving candidate, regardless of my religion, caste and creed,” Khan says, speaking to The Indian Express.
The MBA graduate from DY Patil College was denied a job by Hari Krishna Exports on May 19. When he received the mail, he says, he felt pity that sections of the society in a city like Mumbai could still discriminate on the basis of religion.
“I released a snapshot of the mail on WhatsApp, then on Facebook in the evening. I did this for my friends, to make them aware of it. Our whole batch has graduated and I didn’t want anyone else to face such discrimination. My intention was simple, not to seek public attention. Later, a friend called me on May 20 saying a journalist friend wanted to report it,” says Khan.
The handful of people who discriminate on grounds of religion are the biggest obstacle to India’s progress, Khan says. “If a person with the surname Khan does wrong, it doesn’t mean that all the Khans are alike,” he said.
The youngster, who is a “big fan” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recounts a Twitter post by a friend in the Middle East that compared the Muslims’ frustrations to that of an entire class of school students made to forego lunch break because three or four students were being punished. “For that matter, why only Muslims, other religions too face discrimination. A company in Kerala had a policy of hiring only Muslim and Christian candidates. What about the Hindus of that area? Who will provide them with jobs? We, aspiring youngsters, are suffering due to communal conflicts. Imagine if the Gulf countries stopped hiring people from other religions, what disastrous consequences would globalisation face?”
Khan is also concerned for his mother, recovering from cancer. “She has always been very protective about me. She has been stopping me from appearing on panel discussions in the electronic media,” he says.
Khan is also troubled by social media comments that private companies are free to have their own rules regarding recruitment and he should not be highlighting his case.
But despite those voices, he says, the support he has got is heartening. Political parties, NGOs and minority associations have extended their support.
“The BJP, the Shiv Sena’s regional head and the Yuva Morcha have all said they support me. They even promised to get me a good job, but I made it clear that I wanted a job on my abilities.” The National Commission for Minorities has also voiced its support.
The police probe in the case has begun and Khan says
he has submitted printouts of his application and rejection emails as requested by the police. His statement and those of the two classmates, who had also applied for jobs at Hari Krishna Exports, were recorded.
Khan has also received an email from the company saying that his rejection was a “clerical error”. However, Khan wants an apology from the company, accepting its bias. “If they do so, I will forgive them,” said Khan.
Khan also countered the company’s claim about having 70 Muslim employees on its rolls. “These 70 Muslims are labourers who polish diamonds. Why doesn’t the company speak about hiring Muslims for administrative positions?”
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