Woman in Wheelchair Denied Entry to Gurgaon Restaurant, Management Apologizes

Strong points
  • Srishti Pandey with her best friend and her family had gone to Raasta
  • Group of four reportedly denied entry due to Srishti’s disability
  • My heart is broken. Terribly sad. And I feel disgusted, Ms Pandey tweeted

New Delhi: On Friday, February 12, Srishti Pandey, a physically disabled woman, took to microblogging site Twitter and recounted a heartbreaking experience in a lengthy Twitter thread. Apparently Ms Pandey, who was in a wheelchair, was refused entry to Raasta, a popular restaurant in Gurgaon’s DLF Cyberhub, as it would ‘disturb other customers’. According to the WHO, more than one billion people are estimated to be disabled. This corresponds to approximately 15% of the world’s population. Despite the large numbers, the surrounding stigma ingrained in society impairs the remarkable ability of many individuals. The United Nations has called for leaving no one behind, contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, cases like these highlight the discrimination and inequalities that exist in society.

Read also : Leave No One Behind: Building an Inclusive Society

Soon, the Twitter feed went viral, prompting Goumtesh Singh, founding partner of Raasta, to apologize. In a social media post, Mr Singh said management was taking steps internally to increase sensitivity and empathy towards its staff.

However, Ms Pandey believes the apology is “incomplete”. In an interview with NDTV, Ms Pandey said the restaurant issued an apology after widespread backlash. However,

It doesn’t define exactly what happened and the apology only came after the tweet went viral and after the media picked up on the matter.

Apparently Ms Pandey had gone to Raasta with her best friend and her friend’s family on the night of February 11. It was one of her first outings in a long time and she was looking forward to having some fun, but soon things took a turn for the worse. First, the request for a table of four was ignored twice. Later, “wheelchair andar nahi jaygi (wheelchair doesn’t fit inside)” was reportedly the response she received from the restaurant reception staff.

Ms Pandey, in her thread, alleged that at first she thought it was an ‘accessibility issue’, but was ‘shocked’ when restaurant staff suggested her presence might disturb other customers.

“He told us while showing me that ‘customers andar disturb hojayenge’ (customers will be disturbed) and refused us entry, with such ease. This is from the staff of a creepy whimsical place,” she tweeted.

Read also : Leaving no one behind: the need to build an inclusive society, with equal access for people with disabilities

As Ms Pandey shared, after much argument, she and her group were offered a table outside. But that was not a choice Mrs. Pandey could make for several reasons.

“The seating outside was ridiculous. It was cold. And I can’t sit in the cold for long because my body is getting spasmodic. Is it literally dangerous for me? Why should I have to sit outside anyway? Separated from everyone? If we wanted a seat outside we would have asked for it? Finally, we were asked to leave. Of course,” she wrote.

Ms Pandey was left ‘heartbroken’, ‘terribly sad’ and feeling ‘disgusted’. At the end of the Twitter thread, she asked insightful questions that make one wonder about humanity, love, and caring for each other.

“But do I exist so much as a disturbance to you?” Why do I always have to fight for the least of things? Why have I been refused entry to a public place? Who are they to refuse my entrance like that? Should I stop going out at all only then? Because apparently I don’t belong to others. Because I am a “trouble” for others. Because their moods are apparently ‘ruined’ after watching me,” she wrote.

Read also : Leave no one behind: Paralympian Deepa Malik on creating an inclusive society

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

Speaking about the incident, Ms Pandey said it’s something she and her friends with disabilities have been dealing with for years now. She called it a “systematic thing” and said:

This is not about a single restaurant, staff member or owner of this place. It’s something that happens all the time, every day, every second and it’s not the first time something like this has happened to me. I have already been denied access to many places. This is only the first time that I really decide to go ahead.

NDTV asked Goumtesh Singh, founding partner of Raasta about the incident, but all he said,

This director was relieved of his duties. There are no further comments.

During the live interview, Mr Singh said he had no idea he would be taking part in a live interview and would like to speak to Ms Pandey personally and not on TV.

I would just like to talk to him and would like to apologize to him, he said and abruptly ended the call when asked about the incident.

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

It’s the most disrespectful thing that’s ever happened to me. And it happened live, right now, in front of everyone. I was victim blamed. I’ve been told I’m lying. I’ve received comments that I was being abusive, but that’s what we’ve all seen right now.

Read also : Empowering people with disabilities: This mother-daughter duo changed the way the world looks at people with disabilities

NDTV – Dettol have been working for a clean and healthy India since 2014 through The Banega Swachh India initiative, led by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the interdependence of humans and the environment, and of humans on each other, with an emphasis on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It emphasizes the need to care for and consider the health of everyone in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous peoples, various Indian tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically distant populations, gender and sexual minorities. With the current Covid-19 pandemicthe need for WASH (The water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed because handwashing is one of the ways to prevent coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness of the same while emphasizing the importance of nutrition and health care for women and children, the fight malnutritionmental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health and gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign realized the need to also take care of the health of the ecosystem. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which not only overexploits available resources, but also generates immense pollution due to the use and extraction of these resources. The imbalance has also resulted in an immense loss of biodiversity which has caused one of the greatest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity”. The campaign will continue to cover issues such as air pollution, Waste Management, plastic ban, manual scan and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also advance the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign believes that only a clean Swachh or India where bathroom are used and without open defecation (ODF) status obtained under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a healthy Swasth or India.

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