Telecommunications services company Bharti Airtel on Wednesday said allegations of religious discrimination against it were “untrue and factually incorrect”. Bharti Airtel’s statement comes two days after the service provider faced backlash for accepting a user’s request to assign a “Hindu representative” to handle her complaint.
Pooja Singh, a subscriber to Bharti Airtel’s Direct to Home service, on Monday tweeted that the telecom company’s service engineer had “misbehaved” with her when she complained about reinstallation of the service. Bharti Airtel representative Shoaib responded to her tweet, saying the company would look into Singh’s problem.
Singh, however, demanded that a Hindu representative handle her complaint, claiming she had no faith in Shoaib’s work ethics as he is a Muslim. A representative named Gaganjot responded, saying he would handle Singh’s complaint.
After former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he would no longer remain an Airtel subscriber, the company responded to the Twitter user saying it did not differentiate on the basis of caste or religion.
Social media users called out the company for discrimination based on religion. Airtel, however, said the two representatives were merely following “a dutiful course in their regular work shift”, instead they were wrongly targeted for “heeding to a discriminatory request”.
The company said Shoaib was not logged in following which Gaganjot took up the service request, but it was seen as “bowing down to bigotry”.
“We did not and we repeat, we DID NOT change the advisor because of the unfathomable request from the said customer,” the company said in the statement. “At Airtel, we never have and never will succumb to differentiating on the basis of religion, ethnicity or caste.”
Pooja Singh, meanwhile, tweeted that it was her right to request for a change in the representative. “After that, the kind of abuse I’m facing is beyond imagination and that in itself PROVES that I was right at very first place.”
Omar Abdullah also responded to Singh receiving hate and abuse threats. “I hold no brief for the bigoted Airtel customer but those of you flooding her timeline with hate [and] abuse are as bad, if not worse, than her,” he tweeted.