Zeshan Ali Khan Image Credit: Facebook

New Delhi/Mumbai: In a blatant case of religious discrimination, a Mumbai-based diamond export company has rejected the job application of a business management graduate on the grounds that he is a Muslim, prompting the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to take up the matter.

Zeshan Ali Khan posted a screenshot of the “regret” email from a senior executive of the company on his Facebook page, which led to a national outrage.

“Thanks for your application. We regret to inform you that we hire only non-Muslim candidates,” read the mail sent by Hare Krishna Exports Private Limited company, which enjoys global presence.

Later lawyer and activist Shehzad Poonawalla filed a complaint to the NCM, Union Home Ministry and Chief Minister of Maharashtra, seeking justice for the alleged case of discrimination. NCM chairperson Naseem Ahmed has acknowledged receipt of the petition.

“If it is true, it is really unfortunate. We have received the petition this morning only and as per our set procedure, we will call for the comments of the respondent company and based on their response, we will decide the course of action,” Ahmed told Gulf News.

The Modi government has taken notice of Zeshan’s case.

“The Constitution of India forbids discrimination on the basis of religion or caste. A company can hire or fire anyone on the basis of merit, not on the basis of religion,” Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Thursday.

Hitting out at the Modi government, Zeshan told Gulf News over phone, “our Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks about inclusive growth, but the reality is that private companies do not care about it. The company could have rejected me if they found I was not qualified enough. But they have rejected me simply because I am a Muslim. Sounds like a joke.”

“At a time when PM Modi is visiting foreign countries and inviting them for investment and pushing ahead the ‘Make in India’ campaign, the leading export houses are rejecting local candidates for their religion,” he emphasised.

Zeshan added that he will not accept a job from this company.

“The executives of the company called me today and said it was a typing error. They want me to believe it was a mistake. How can there be a mistake of such nature. I will never accept a job from this company,” he averred.

Reacting to this, Zeshan’s father Ali Ahmed said that Muslims have been left behind in the process of development.

“Religion cannot be a criterion for rejection from job. Only merit and demerit is the criterion. I never thought we will be treated in this manner. This is a clear cut case of religious discrimination. They always say Muslim families do not educate their children but I did. We condemn the policy of that company not allowing Muslims to work for them,” Ahmed said.

On being contacted, the company said the email was sent erroneously by a new employee who was still training.

Associate vice-president of the company Mahendra S Deshmukh wrote to Khan stating, “We would like to clarify that the company does not discriminate against candidates based on gender, caste, religion, etc. Any hurt caused in the matter is deeply regretted. This erroneous email was sent by my colleague Mrs Dipika Tike who has joined recently and is still on training. It was a blunder and mess created by one of our trainees who has no decision-making power. We have 61 employees in our office here including one Muslim in the human resource (HR) team. The HR trainee who denied job to you has been suspended. The company maintains it is an error and not the company policy.”

Zeshan completed his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) final exams last week and applied for the job after coming across the company’s advertisement on a recruitment portal. Two of his classmates, Mukund Mani and Omkar Bansode, also applied for the same job and were called for interviews the very next day.

“My classmates have succeeded in getting the job in the same company where I lost the opportunity because I had a ‘Khan’ in my surname. But as a mark of solidarity with me, my friends have decided not to join,” Zeshan said.