Kolkata: Film maker Ashish Avikunthak on Saturday claimed that he was denied entry into a city mall for wearing a dhoti.
The film maker took to Facebook to write about the incident, which triggered outrage on social media.
He wrote: “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.”
“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 practiced unhindered. I write this with a sense of deep disgust,” he said.
Avikunthak said, “What have I to say about the whole incident? Please go through my Facebook post which has narrated the entire consequence.”
Avikunthak’s companion Debaleena Sen said, “We were about to enter the mall when Ashish was stopped by security guards who said he can’t be allowed inside since he was wearing a dhoti. As we argued and Ashish 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.”
Debleena claimed she recorded the incident on her mobile, which the mall employees allegedly asked her not to. “This shows they want to hide their racist attitude.”
The mall authorities denied the charges. They said the security personnel at the gate, who form the first ring of security at the mall, asked the film director to wait and went to the supervisor to seek his opinion. He was then allowed in.
“The total waiting period for the person was 20 seconds and after that he entered the mall. We have video footage of his entry into the mall,” the mall authorities said.
The issue caused outrage on social media which had a large number of posts against the mall authorities.
“Ashish Avikunthak not allowed entry in …. mall because he was wearing a dhoti. Incidentally, mall-keepers were a bit beeped out because the dhoti wearing filmmaker spoke better English. Then they allowed him,” a Facebook post said.
Here is how Twitterati reacted:
Kolkata mall denies entry to man wearing dhoti. Don’t know where the concept of “wearing traditional local clothes is not good” comes from?
— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) July 15, 2017
— #Intolerant भारतीय (@goyalsanjeev) July 15, 2017
Bizarre act of a shopping mall.Director Ashis Abhikuntak is barred for entry for wearing a dhoti,that too in Kolkata.Shame Quest shame! — Rajdeep Deb (@idrrajdeep) July 16, 2017
So, #QuestMall, Kolkata now apparently prohibits people in Dhoti/Lungi and Kurtas from entering. Not just elitist. Lets call it racism (1/n)
— Saurya Sengupta (@sauryasengupta) July 15, 2017