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Indian telecommunications service provider Bharti Airtel Limited drew flak on Twitter on Monday for apparently promoting bigotry.

Addressing Airtel’s customer care team, an unhappy customer @pooja303singh posted on Twitter: “@airtelindia pathetic Airtel DTH customer service.I raised complaint for reinstallation of DHT, but assigned service engineer misbehaved with me. His words are ‘Tum Phone Rakho Dobara call mt krna’(Hang up the phone and don’t call back)... This is how Airtel is looting it’s customer.”

A customer care agent replied through the official Twitter handle @Airtel_Presence: “Hey, I most definitely appreciate you reaching out here! We’ll take a closer look into that & get back shortly with more information. Thank you, Shoaib”

To this, Pooja Singh replied: “Dear Shohaib, as you’re a Muslim and I have no faith in your working ethics because Kuran may have different version for customer service, thus requesting you to assign a Hindu representative for my request. Thanks.”

Singh’s response started receiving criticism, but what infuriated tweeps was the fact that Airtel actually assigned a Hindu customer care agent to address her complaint.

In the following tweet they posted: “Hi Pooja! As discussed, please let me know what days & time frames work best for you so we can talk. Further, please share an alternate number so that I can assist you further with this. Thank you, Gaganjot”

Tweeps said this response promoted bigotry.

People could not believe that the telecommunications company had given into such a request.

Tweep @Yyamiiiniii wrote: “Succumbing to some prejudiced bias against your own employee who happens to be of another faith in a country whose Constitution is build on the premise of secularism is, at least, a shameful act.”

Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, @OmarAbdullah posted: “Dear @Airtel_Presence this conversation is genuine (I’ve seen the timeline myself). I refuse to pay another penny to a company that condones such blatant bigotry. I’m beginning the process of porting my number to another service provider & canceling my DTH & Broadband.”

Some Twitter users could not understand the logic in Singh’s tweet. @sujithnambudiri posted: “Now that a non-Muslim sounding person has responded, your issue will get resolved immediately? How does religion come into play here?”

Twitter users like @arjunsinha asked Airtel to issue an apology.

He posted: “Hey @Airtel_Presence - this is tacit support to bigotry and hate. Please apologise to Shoaib your employee and state your position with respect to religious discrimination so that we all can decide if we are to continue with your services.”

Many Airtel customers said they were planning to port their numbers to other service providers based on this incident.

Tweep @aftab4279 wrote: “Hey, I want to port my airtel no ... what’s the process?”

System-generated message?

Twitter user @cyanideshankar chose to give Airtel the benefit of the doubt, he posted: “It’s not discriminating. It’s system generated message, first message is at three hours earlier. This must have been just a shift in work. See time carefully before outraging.”

Sensing the overall outrage, Bharti Airtel India finally issued a statement on Twitter through there account @Airtel_Presence: “Dear Pooja, at Airtel, we absolutely do not differentiate between customers, employees and partners on the basis of caste or religion. We would urge you to do the same. Both Shoaib and Gaganjot are part of our customer resolution team. If any customer contacts us for an ongoing service issue, then the first available service executive responds in the interest of time. On your query, we will get back to you as soon as there is an update. Thanks - Himanshu, Airtel Response Team Lead.”

Twitter user @PluviophilePoet highlighted that it was people with this kind of mentality who were causing communal problems in the country.

He wrote: “... Problem is not Airtel here, problem is person who is dividing us like Pooja!”

Meanwhile, other telecom service providers were quick to jump at the opportunity and replied to user porting requests immediately.