Mumbai: Stadium restaurant denies entry to physically challenged woman

The woman and her brother were allegedly barred from entering the Churchgate establishment on December 27; when the duo’s infuriated friends asked the manager for an explanation, they too were asked to leave

In a shocking incident of discrimination, a south Mumbai eatery allegedly refused entry to a physically challenged woman and her brother with no explanation given whatsoever. Worse, when the duo’s friends demanded an explanation from the manager, he asked them all to leave the restaurant.

Shakir and Rukaiya Virpurwala had been invited for lunch at the Churchgate restaurant on December 27. They were stopped at the entrance by two men
Shakir and Rukaiya Virpurwala had been invited for lunch at the Churchgate restaurant on December 27. They were stopped at the entrance by two men

The incident occurred on December 27 when Rukaiya Virpurwala (62), who is physically challenged, went with her brother Shakir (57) to the Stadium Restaurant. The duo had been invited there for lunch by a group of friends, and Shakir and Rukaiya were stopped at the entrance itself.

“As we tried getting in, two gatekeepers appeared out of nowhere. They started pushing us and asked us to leave the restaurant at once. I asked them for a reason, but they seemed to have been directed by their manager to ask us to leave without giving any reasons,” said Shakir, who has been a professor at Khalsa College.

Noticing the commotion, one of the friends intervened and the group went to talk to the manager of the establishment. “When we asked the manager if a physically challenged person has no right to come to a restaurant, he just murmured something and asked us to leave,” added Shakir.

Not the first
A month ago, the siblings had gone to a juice center near Lamington Road, where its owner allegedly shooed Rukaiya away in an inhuman manner. Shakir said the matter was reported at the Lamington Road police, who took prompt action against the man.

In November, a taxi driver had refused to ply her and allegedly pushed her off the road. “The mindset of people has to change. Be it my sister or anybody else, they (persons with disabilities) are a part of our society, and it’s high time we treat them like equals,” said Shakir. The family and friends of the Virpurwalas are outraged.

“Isn’t the service industry supposed to provide prompt services and behave in a courteous manner? The incident is totally disgraceful,” said Ashu Trikha, Shakir’s friend, and a film director and producer.

Niranjan Shetty, chairman, Association of Hotels and Restaurants, said, “I can’t believe such an act has taken place! If true, we totally condemn this act and will take action against the restaurant,” said Shetty.

The other side
A representative of the restaurant, who refused to share his details, couldn’t recall the incident, and only said, “It is not possible that we will send a handicapped person back. It’s possible there were no seats available; our hotel is almost always full. The only people whom we send back are ones from the road and drunkards.”

When informed that we were talking about a professor from an eminent college, who didn’t fit any of those categories, he said that he couldn’t continue the conversation because of the excess crowd at the hotel, and hung up.

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