NEW DELHI — In what appears to be a case of religious intolerance and discrimination, two Muslim students from Glocal University hired by a private company were fired within a month for allegedly offering Friday prayers in the office premise.
Mohammed Kashif and Shamsher, two students from B.Tech (Civil) were hired as trainees on February 15 by Spatial Geotech Private Limited (SGPL) at their Noida office. Speaking with Twocircles.net, Kashif, 22, said, “When we both joined, there were two more Muslims who were working in the company. We asked them where they offered Friday prayers, and they said no. So, all four of us went to our boss, Annu Gupta, and asked her if we could take some time off on Friday afternoons to offer the Jumma Prayers. She flatly refused the idea despite us saying that we would compensate for the time.”
After they were denied permission to visit a Mosque, the four decided to offer Zuhr prayers within the office premises. In the first week of March, according to Kashif, the four were called by Gupta and warned to not ‘disrupt the office environment’. “At that time, I did not know she was talking about us offering prayers,” he said. Subsequently, when they did the same in the following week, the two were again called to Gupta’s office and were shown a video of them performing the prayers. “We were told to wait in the office, and by evening we came to know through our college placement cell that the two of us (Kashif and Shamsher) had been terminated from our jobs. I am pretty sure that this was due to our offering prayers in the office, as the same was told to us by Gupta when we were in her office,” says Kashif. The two were not even given a termination letter and when they asked for a No-Objection Certificate from the company, even that was denied.
A member of the Glocal University placement office confirmed to Twocircles.net that these two had been terminated, but said that the reason was cited as performance and not the religious prayers. “In the telephonic conversation, however, the issue of offering prayers did come up, and Annu Gupta and the recruiting consultant Arjun Mishra did point out that this was not conducive to the office environment.”
He added, “The issue of performance is difficult to believe since they had been there only for three weeks, and clearly, the offering of prayer did not go down well with the company,” he said.
When Twocircles.net contacted Annu Gupta for comments, she said that the company’s response had been conveyed to the University and refused to add anything to the same. The recruitment agent flatly denied any case of religious discrimination and said, “The two were performing below par and that is why we asked the placement division to send more students.” He also said that the placement team had been told thrice about their incompetence, a charge which was denied by the placement officer. “I have no such written communication from them, and this was not pointed to us earlier. Yes, they had asked for more students, but that was not because these two were not performing well.”
But what is even more startling is that the letter sent by Mishra to the placement division complained of these students being “intoxicated” at work. “Unfortunately, even after the counselling and ample duration of time to learn and improve yourself, there has been no change in their performance. Their performance was still unsatisfactory and they were often found intoxicated at work, to the extent that they were so impaired that they were unfit to be entrusted with the employment duties.”
Kashif denied the claims, saying that he had never touched alcohol and that it was an insult to him and his faith. “This is the first time I have heard this (about the contents of the mail). I am shocked beyond imagination and hurt at their allegations…I wanted some time to offer prayers, and instead, they accuse me of being drunk?”
The two students, who have been under immense stress since this incident, are currently looking for other jobs, but they say that they have been left mentally scarred by the event. “I hope nothing like this happens ever again to another person,” said a cousin of Kashif. “He was just practising his faith. Since when has that become an issue?” he asked.