Khasi attire row: Delhi Golf Club writes apology letter to Meghalaya woman

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NEW DELHI, Aug 14 (AGENCIES); The Delhi Golf Club, which hit the headlines after its staff asked a Meghalaya woman dressed in traditional Khasi attire to leave, has tendered a written apology to the victim almost two months after the incident.

According to a report, DGC president Siddharth Shriram wrote to Tailin Lyngdoh on 4 August, “regretting” the undue and discriminatory behaviour of their staff. Shriram assured her that other members of the club also wore the traditional Khasi dress and that the club had never denied access to anyone.

In what was largely viewed as a case of discrimination against the people of North East, Lyngdoh was reportedly insulted and asked to leave the dining hall premises of the elite Delhi club because the staffer believed that her traditional Khasi attire looked like a “maid’s uniform”. Lyngdoh, who works as a governess, had gone to the club with her employer, Nivedita Barthakur Sondhi, to attend a lunch. Some 15-20 minutes into the lunch, two club officials asked Lyngdoh to leave the table and the club premises saying the dress (Jainsem) was a “maid’s uniform”. They also allegedly racially abused her. After the story hit the headlines, the club issued a statement, apologising for the behaviour of its staff.

In its initial statement, the Delhi Golf Club said the member who had hosted the lunch had “unconditionally” accepted its apology. “It is unfortunate and regrettable that an undesirable attempt is being made to give the incident a political and cultural overtone,” the club said.

It is noteworthy, however, that though that the member who had hosted the lunch did accept the club’s apology, they were not the wronged party.

“I have travelled almost all over the world and several parts of India and eaten food in the best hotels and clubs. But no one has hurled abuses on me or commented on my dress,” Lyngdoh said after the incident.

Lyngdoh hails from Meghalaya’s Langtor village in Mairaing civil sub-division. “I am astounded over the Delhi Golf Club episode. It was a bitter experience for me and Nivedita and everyone out there. You cannot judge a person by what she wears and call someone a dustbin,” she added.

The Justice Mudgal Inquiry Committee was appointed by the club to look into the episode. The Delhi Golf Club has informed the three-member panel that the issue was being given a “cultural overtone.”

The club in its response to the committee said that the staffer assumed that Lyngdoh was a domestic help for which rules are already in place. That such rules again are highly problematic and discriminatory as they clearly differentiate between people based on social class is quite another matter.

When the committee asked how did the staffer come to the conclusion that Lyngdoh was a domestic help, the club explained that because she was sitting with a child and they could tell by just by looking at her “after so many years of working here,” an agency report said.

Lyngdow, meanwhile, says she is unsatisfied with the apology and finds it “really sad” that the entire episode is being given a different colour to escape the debate around racial discrimination against people from the North East, according to the report.

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