Pakistani family spends night on Mumbai footpath after being refused by hotels, lodges

Mumbai: A trip to ‘Maximum City’ turned bitter for a family from Pakistan. After visiting the iconic Haji Ali dargah, the family of six from Karachi found that no hotel or lodge was willing to give them rooms. When their efforts to return to their relatives’ house in Jodhpur too failed, the family – which included three women and a boy – had no option but to spend the night on a footpath.

The family had arrived in India last week, and had stayed a while with relatives in Jodhpur. They had arrived in Mumbai, with two things on their agenda – a visit to Haji Ali and an attempt to meet Bollywood star Salman Khan.

“After being with our relatives in Jodhpur for over a week, we decided to visit the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai for ziyarat (prayers). We arrived in Mumbai on October 14 morning, went to the shrine and returned from there after prayers,” said Noor Banu, who had come to India with her brother Inayat Ali (55), nephew Shakeel Ahmed, two other women and a seven-year-old boy.

After a visit to Haji Ali, the family had tried to find accommodation. That’s when their trauma started.

“I asked the family to wait near a hotel at Bhenzi Bazaar and began searching for a hotel or lodge. Till the evening I visited around a dozen lodges, but everyone refused to admit us since we are from Pakistan,” said a bitter Shakeel Ahmed.

“What is the problem in providing us accommodation when the Indian government has given us valid visas?” he added.

“The little boy, who watched the ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ movie, is a big fan of Salman Khan. We thought we will try to meet Salman Khan too. However, the experience has been bitter. I don’t want to say more. We just want to leave and reach home as early as possible,” said Ahmed.

After they were turned away by a dozen lodges and hotels, the family decided to return to Jodhpur. They went to the Mumbai Central Railway station to take a train, but were stopped by the railway protection force (RPF).

The RPF personnel told the family that there was no train for Jodhpur late in the night and that they would have to come the next day. The family could also not spend the night on the platform, as that is not permitted in Mumbai.

So, they come out of the station and took the only option open to them – spend the night on a footpath.

On Thursday morning, the family left for Jodhpur. “We are going from Mumbai, but don’t want to go with bitter memories. However, one will think about the treatment given to him or her on foreign soil,” said Banu. The family did not approach the police, saying their priority was to reach home at the earliest.

When a reporter told Ahmed that the Indians’ attitudes towards Pakistan changed after the 26/11 terror attacks, Ahmed said, “Even we feel bad for it. However, one cannot malign the image of all Pakistanis because of that.”


Courtesy Times of India

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