Vihur Kanodia, the owner of Shiv Sagar restaurant in Connaught Place, today refuted charges of discrimination against the underprivileged children and alleged the ‘aggressive’ woman Sonali Shetty demanded that food be served free of cost to them.
“We do not discriminate against anybody. We give service to everyone. But if someone enters the restaurant and behaves aggressively then we can’t give service. This is exactly what happened yesterday. She was very aggressive. She wanted free food and we denied it,” Kanodia told the media here.
Stating that the incident has been captured in the CCTV footage and investigation is going on into the same, Kanodia said Sonali became very aggressive when she was denied free food.
“When we denied giving her free food, she said she was ready to pay. She came in the restaurant and you can see how her behavior changed in 15-30 minutes. She was in the restaurant for more than an hour. My statement is we never discriminate and we serve food to everyone. We don’t want anyone to create a scene in the restaurant,” he added.
However, this contradicts the stand of one of the employees of Shiv Sagar restaurant who stated earlier that they had permitted the children to enter but refused service later as they were creating a ruckus inside and disturbing the other customers.
“It is completely untrue that we denied entry to the children, as we have it on record that we allowed them to sit inside. We also never said that we won’t provide service to the children. But then the kids were making a lot of noise, tossing things around and creating a commotion. As a restaurateur, I have the right to deny service to someone who disturbs other customers,” Roma Malhotra, an employee of the restaurant, said.
The Delhi Government has issued a probe into the incident.
“This is typical Colonial mindset. Can’t be tolerated. Have ordered DM New Delhi to enquire & report within 24 hours,” Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted.
Sisodia also asserted that the restaurant’s license would be revoked and firm action would be initiated if all the allegations are proven.
Sonali, who lodged the case against the Shiv Sagar restaurant, said the restaurateurs’ told her and the children to vacate the premises immediately as it is their right to serve whomever they want.
“They clearly told us to get and also threatened to shoot me if I don’t clear out from the premises. The owner discriminated with kids and refused service citing that kids aren’t well dressed and are look dirty. Nevertheless, I came back and sat down in front of the restaurant in protest. Even the police did not support us,” she said.
Sonali further said that she would return to the restaurant today with more street children and sit outside its door at 4 p.m. as mark of protest.