Ahmedabad: Today morning I woke up to the news that Muslims were asked to Pay an entry fee of Rs 20 for entering into The Himalaya Mall at Ahmedabad on the occasion of Eid. The news specifically suggested that only the people belonging to Muslim Community were asked to pay the fee while others were exempted from this.
My immediate reaction was Anger and Hatred towards the Mall management which discriminates on the basis of Religion . I started to search for the contact details of the owners of the Mall Management so that I could raise my displeasure to them.
In between, I came across this report in the famous Ahmedabad Mirror (owned by Times of India Group), which denied any religious discrimination on that day. The report quoted several Hindu Visitors to the mall who were also charged an entry fee of Rs 20 on the Day of Eid (August 9, 2013).
It quoted Amit Chadda, a businessman from Sidhhapur saying “I haven’t heard of a mall that charges an entry fee. I was stunned when I had to shell out money for the coupon”.
In another report, Ravi from Ahmedabad says, “Even me and my friends were charged Rs 20 yesterday at Himalaya Mall”.
Many other Hindu Youths in Ahmedabad mentioned they were charged, whereas ladies and senior citizen were exempted from the entry fee.
In the words of Deepa Bhatnagar, Manager, Operations at The Himalaya Mall, “There is no religious discrimination involved. This is a wrong idea. Only women and senior citizens are being exempted from the fee”.
“The fee is being returned if any purchase is made, so the entry is practically free. We introduced the concept to ensure only genuine customers visit the mall. Last year, there were many scuffles in the mall and we had to call police to help us,” said Deepa.
However there was resentment among shopkeepers of the mall that they weren’t consulted before introducing this entry fee. The Mall Management plans to introduce this Entry Fee again on the day of Diwali.
This might be an idea of Mall Management to increase the sales on festive occasions or deter people coming for window shopping, but it was not a matter of Religious discrimination under any circumstances.
What I conclude is that there was an erroneous reporting in media about this incident and I request everyone reading not to respond to communal flare incited by people with vested interests.