SRINAGAR: A Srinagar-based hotel is facing legal suit for permanently shutting its doors upon Kashmiris.
A group of lawyers from south Kashmir’s Shopian district—Habeel Iqbal, Rayees Jan, Jehangir Ahmad Khan, and Umar Manzoor—have filed a defamation suit against the owner and manager of Hotel Sterling—the two-star hotel in Rajbagh here, which had denied them accommodation for being Kashmiris.
The lawyers and a banker Aamir Usman had approached the hotel for accommodation late last month, but the manager turned them away, saying “we don’t rent accommodation to Kashmiris.” Later, the hotel owner Nazir Ahmad confirmed to Kashmir Reader that for “personal reasons” they have stopped entertaining Kashmiri customers.
Advocate Habeel told Kashmir Reader on Wednesday they have filed the defamation suit in the District and Sessions Court Shopian.
“A day after we were turned away from the hotel, the hotelier gave a statement to a Delhi-based newspaper stating that they fear Kashmiri customers. They are clearly defaming the Kashmiris by denying them space and then by making such statements. So we have moved the court,” Habeel said.
“The defamation suit was filed last week, and the court has already summoned the owner and the manager via Superintendent of Police, Srinagar,” he added.
The hotel owner appears to be faking official orders to make ground for keeping the Kashmiris away. The hotelier had denied accommodation to advocate Habeel and his colleagues on pretext that they have been doing so under police instruction. But the police station concerned has made clear that they have issued no such order.
Feeling “humiliated, ashamed and embarrassed”, the lawyers have also sought a penalty of Rs 150, 000 and a written apology from the hotel owner.
“Me and my associates demand a penalty of Rs 50, 000 and further punitive damages to the tune of Rs 100, 000 from you for the mental ordeal and the physical torture inflicted upon us by your unlawful, racial, unfair, unreasonable and discriminatory policy,” reads the notice sent by advocate Rayees on behalf of the group.
“Me and my associates also demand a written public apology for your conduct, which demeans the entire population of the Valley of Kashmir,” it adds.