Outrage as Indian restaurant refuses wheelchair user to avoid ‘inconveniencing customers’

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A popular restaurant near Delhi reportedly refused entry to a disabled woman saying her wheelchair would “disturb other diners”, sparking outrage on social media.

Srishti Pandey said she decided to go public after being heartbroken and disgusted by the ordeal because she faced years of “systematic discrimination”.

Ms Pandey said she went to the popular Raasta restaurant in Gurugram with her friends and family on Friday when staff told them her wheelchair could not enter.

“We thought it was an accessibility issue, but it wasn’t,” she said in a tweet. “We told him we’d manage, just book us a table.”

“What he said next left everything [us] shocked for a while,” she added. “He told us while showing me that customers would be bothered and refuse us entry, with so much ease. This is from the staff at a fancy place.

After some argument, the staff offered her to sit outside, which she said was ridiculous. “It was starting to get cold. And I can’t sit in the cold for long because my body is getting spasmodic. It’s literally dangerous for me,” she said.

“It’s something I’ve been dealing with for years and it’s something my friends with disabilities are dealing with,” Ms Pandey told broadcaster NDTV.

“It’s a systematic thing. This is not a staff and restaurant. It’s not the first time this has happened to me, but it’s the first time I’ve spoken about it,” Ms Pandey said.

Following his tweet, the restaurant expressed regret in a statement on social media. “We deeply regret the episode that unfolded at Raasta Gurgaon on Friday night. We stand for inclusiveness and would never want anyone to feel isolated for any reason,” said Raasta Founding Partner Goumtesh Singh.

“As part of our efforts, we have already contacted the aggrieved customer to personally apologize to them. We are also taking steps internally to increase the sensitivity and empathy of our staff so that this never happens again,” he added.

The manager who was on duty was sacked following the controversy, according to Mr Singh.

But Ms Pandey said the apology was “incomplete” and noted it only came after her tweet went viral.

The incident sparked a debate on social media and led to several calls for a boycott of the restaurant. Many called the incident appalling.

Indian lawmaker Abhishek Singhvi said: “If this is how Raasta Gurgaon treats people with disabilities differently, I would really like to hear what they have to say on this subject and if it is true, I would ask all my supporters to boycott the place.”

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