Hotel chain Oyo has initiated an inquiry into one of its properties in Jaipur that barred a Muslim man and Hindu woman from sharing a room last week, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday. Police have denied that they issued such a guideline, as the hotel had allegedly told the pair.

The man, a 31-year-old assistant professor from Udaipur, said he had booked a room online for himself and a woman friend, and reached Jaipur on Saturday morning to check in. The hotel receptionist asked him about his companion who would come later, and when he gave the name, he was reportedly told, “This is a problem. Both of you are from different religions, we can’t check you in.”

The professor said he told the hotel staff that no such rule was mentioned in the booking app or the hotel website, and it was also against the Constitution’s promise of equality. “But they claimed that they were only acting on instructions from the local police,” he told The Indian Express. “I asked them to give it in writing but they refused.”

“I insisted that there is no such rule or law anywhere, which prohibits people from different religions and genders to stay together, but they didn’t relent,” he said. The booking app later agreed to refund his advance amount, and also booked him a room in another hotel for free, the man said.

The woman called the incident shocking, and claimed the hotel would have accepted a Sikh and a Hindu but had a problem because they were a Hindu-Muslim pair. She said: “We are living in the 21st century and I don’t know why people still have this notion of dividing people on the basis of religion.”

Hotel manager Govardhan Singh said the property does not allow couples of different religions to stay together. “It is the policy of the hotel as well as the instructions by the police,” he told The Indian Express, adding that he had been instructed the same by his “seniors” and by police “both in writing and orally”.

Jaipur Police Commissioner Anand Shrivastava denied the claim. “No such instructions, either written or verbal, have been issued,” he said. “They are merely misusing the name of police.”

Oyo told The Indian Express: “We sincerely apologise for this unfortunate experience. Oyo Hotels and Homes is committed to bringing quality living experiences to our guests from around the world, irrespective of their race, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, age, etc. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination across all our properties and take immediate strict action, which can also lead to the termination of the contract with asset owners.”

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