Kerala House, the statutory mission house of the State in the national capital, has found itself entangled in another controversy. This time, the allegation raised against it has a racist tinge.
Niranjan Kumar, a Coimbatore-based journalist, in his Facebook account earlier this week alleged that he was verbally abused by the canteen staffer at the cash counter. He had gone to the Kerala House canteen last week to have lunch.
It is informed that Niranjan, who is working at ‘Puthiya Thalaimurai’, a television channel in Coimbatore, was in Delhi last week and went to the Samridhi canteen at the Kerala House. The canteen staffer at the counter allegedly abused Niranjan by addressing him ‘Tamizhan’, the Malayalam word used to denote a Tamil Nadu native. Niranjan was reportedly embarrassed by this and was equally enraged by the obvious racist approach of the canteen staffer.
When The Kochi Post contacted the Kerala House employees, they said they knew very little about the incident. “We came to know about the incident when some newspapers reported it on Tuesday. We have not received a formal complaint yet. Hence, cannot take any action on the basis of newspaper reports,” said one official at the Kerala House.
Kerala House resident commissioner Vishwas Mehta said that the Kerala House has sorted out the issue already. “We spoke to both parties on Tuesday and have reached a compromise. The issue is resolved now.” he said. It is informed that no action has been taken against the canteen staffer.
Meanwhile, Niranjan was not available on his number. Murali Krishnan, one of his friends and a Delhi based journalist said that the incident was unfortunate. He said: “Once again, the discourteous, unfriendly and unprofessional attitude of Kerala House staff has come to the fore. The Kerala Government should take a cue from how Andhra Bhavan deals with people who come to have food there.”
Anil Kumar from Kottakkal, a former student at JNU, said that the canteen staff at Kerala House generally had an unfriendly approach towards customers. “I don’t think it is specific to a particular community or people. I have gone there to have food several times and I have observed this indecent approach they have towards each customer. They have a feeling that even if they behave improperly, they would not lose their customers. But, yes, people go there because it has a reputation,” he said.
Shafi Parambil MLA told The Kochi Post, “If such an incident took place it is highly condemnable. When someone faces such an embarrassing situation at Kerala House, it shows the State’s approach to the people from other states. It should not be allowed to happen again. I don’t know the details of the incident. But as far as I could understand, the incident should have never happened and the Government should investigate into it and the culprits should be punished accordingly. The act should be a signal to the Malayalees who consider that they were superior to others. We can have pride in our achievements but arrogance cannot be accepted.”
“While Malayalees have progressed in many aspects, especially in mass literacy and employment, other states are much better in many other areas. We should recognise this and make a drastic change in our approach to people from other states. There are a great number of Malayalees working in other parts of the country. Will we be happy if someone from another state shows disrespect in similar manner. The Government is liable to give a message to our people in this regard,” he added.
It is said that Niranjan was engaged in an argument with the person sitting at the canteen counter. There was a long queue for token and also a shortage of coins for change at the counter. Niranjan got involved in an argument with the staffer and he got provoked.
Kerala House image by Akhilan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.