The telecom company has been heavily criticized after it failed to defend a Muslim employee against discrimination from a customer
Airtel India has been heavily criticized after it failed to defend a Muslim employee against discrimination from a customer.
According to the BBC, the row began on Monday when Pooja Singh – the customer in question - tweeted that she had a terrible experience with a call centre employee. When an Airtel customer service representative with a Muslim name replied, she asked for a "Hindu representative” as she had "no faith" in the Muslim employee's "working ethics" since "the Koran may have a different version for customer service."
Scant hours had passed before another Airtel customer representative – this time, not a Muslim – responded in compliance with Pooja’s request and offered to accommodate her.
The exchange received intense backlash online as many interpreted the move as extremely anti-Muslim. The former chief minister of Indian-administered Kashmir denounced the company, saying he would stop using Airtel.
After it was widely condemned on social media, Airtel issued a statement on Twitter claiming to be above discrimination.
1. How @Airtel_Presence responded to bigotry at 3.25pm.— Akash Banerjee (@akashbanerjee) June 18, 201
2. How @Airtel_Presence responded to bigotry at 8.18pm after twitter backlash.
Happy that @TwitterIndia spoke out, disappointed that I share my Nation / Religion / Service Provider with poison pills like @pooja303singh. pic.twitter.com/dPhgMPzA0E
However, many users have continued to criticize the company over the initial response complying with the discriminatory request.
Many people have also trolled the customer for her tweet - one called her a "Hindu bigot" and another referred to her as a "hatemonger."
Pooja has since responded, claiming that those who have criticized her have only proven her right.
The incident happened a day after Ola, an Indian taxicab aggregator, landed in controversy when one of its drivers refused to drop a Muslim customer at his location.
The company issued a public apology and fired the driver the following day.