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A Woman In Wheelchair Denied Entry Into Gurgaon Restaurant, Management Apologises

Allegedly, Srishti Pandey, who was on a wheelchair, was denied entry into Raasta, a popular restaurant in Gurgaon’s DLF Cyberhub, as it would “disturb other customers”

A Woman In Wheelchair Denied Entry Into Gurgaon Restaurant, Management Apologises
“Wheelchair andar nahi jaygi (the wheelchair won't go inside)” was allegedly the reply Srishti Pandeygot from the staff at restaurant Raasta's front desk
Highlights
  • Srishti Pandey along with her best friend and family had gone to Raasta
  • A group of four was allegedly denied entry because of Srishti’s disability
  • I am heartbroken. Awfully sad. And I feel disgusted, tweeted Ms Pandey

New Delhi: On Friday (February 12), Srishti Pandey, a woman with a physical disability took to micro-blogging site Twitter and narrated a harrowing experience in a long Twitter thread. Allegedly, Ms Pandey, who was in a wheelchair, was denied entry into Raasta, a popular restaurant in Gurgaon’s DLF Cyberhub, as it would “disturb other customers”. As per WHO, over 1 billion people are estimated to experience disability. This corresponds to about 15 per cent of the global population. Despite the large number, the surrounding stigma ingrained in society detracts from the remarkable ability of many individuals. The United Nations has called to leave no one behind, contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, cases like these, highlight the existing discrimination and inequalities in society.

Also Read: Leaving No One Behind: Building An Inclusive Society

Soon the Twitter thread went viral prompting Goumtesh Singh, Founder Partner at Raasta, to apologise. In a social media post, Mr Singh said that the management is taking steps internally to heighten sensitivity and empathy for their staff.

However, Ms Pandey believes that the apology is “incomplete”. In an interview with NDTV, Ms Pandey said that the restaurant has issued an apology after a lot of backlash coming their way. However,

It doesn’t define what exactly happened and the apology only came after the tweet went viral and after the media took this case up.

Apparently, Ms Pandey had gone to Raasta with her best friend and friend’s family on the night of February 11. This was one of her first outings in a long time and she was looking forward to having fun but soon things took an ugly turn. First, the request for a table of four was ignored twice. Later, “wheelchair andar nahi jaygi (the wheelchair won’t go inside)” was allegedly the reply she got from the staff at the restaurant’s front desk.

Ms Pandey, in her thread, alleged that at first, she thought it was an “accessibility issue” but she was “left shocked” when the staff at the restaurant suggested that her presence could disturb other customers.

“He told us pointing towards me that ‘andar customers disturb hojayenge’ (the customers will get disturbed) and denied us entry, with so much of ease. This came from the staff of a freaking fancy place,” she tweeted.

Also Read: Leaving No One Behind: The Need To Build An Inclusive Society, One With Equal Access For People With Disabilities

As shared by Ms Pandey, after a lot of arguing, she and her group were offered a table outside. But that wasn’t a choice Ms Pandey could make because of multiple reasons.

“The outside seating was ridiculous. It was getting cold. And I can’t sit out in cold for long because my body gets spastic. It’s literally unsafe for me? Why should I be made to sit outside anyway? Segregated from everyone else? If we wanted an outside seating we would have asked for it? Eventually we were asked to leave. Obviously,” she wrote.

Ms Pandey was left “heartbroken”, “awfully sad” and with a feeling of “disgust”. At the end of the Twitter thread, she asked some pertinent questions that make one wonder about humanity, love, and care for each other.

“But is me just existing that much of a disturbance for you? Why do I always have to fight for the smallest of things? Why was I denied entry in a public place? Who are they to deny my entry just like that? Should I stop going out at all only then? Because apparently I don’t belong with others. Because I’m a “disturbance” for others. Because their moods apparently get “ruined” after looking at me,” she wrote.

Also Read: Leaving No One Behind: Paralympian Deepa Malik On Creating An Inclusive Society

The Gurugram Police has responded to Ms Pandey’s tweet seeking her contact details for further appropriate action.

Talking about the incident, Ms Pandey said that this is something she and her disabled friends have been facing for years now. She called it a “systematic thing” and said,

It is not about just one restaurant, one staff member, or one owner of this place. This is something that has been happening all the time, every day, every second and this is not the first time that something like this happened to me. I have been denied access before from a lot of places. It is just the first time that I actually decided to take it forward.

NDTV questioned Goumtesh Singh, Founder Partner at Raasta about the incident but all he said,

That manager has been released from his duties. There are no further comments.

During the live interview, Mr Singh said he wasn’t aware he would be in a live interview and would like to speak to Ms Pandey personally and not on television.

I would just like to talk to her and would like to apologise to her, he said and abruptly ended the call when questioned about the incident.

In reply to Mr Singh’s reaction during the live interview, Ms Pandey said,

This is the most disrespectful thing that has ever happened to me. And this happened live, right now, in front of everyone. I have been victim blamed. I have been told that I am lying. I have been getting comments that I was being abusive, but this is what all of us have witnessed right now.

Also Read: Enabling The Disabled: This Mother-Daughter Duo Changed The Way World Looks At People With Disabilities

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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