Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Irate protestors gherao Reliance office over alleged communal remarks

GANGTOK, June 11: Emotions ran high today as protesters gheraoed the local office of Reliance Telecom here over the alleged remarks against the Nepalese community by one of its customer care executive.

Representatives from the Sikkim Journalist forum, All Sikkim Unemployed Youth Association, All Sikkim Students Association, MR Work charge Employee Association and United Arithang Development Society, angry over the remarks gathered at the Titanic park here to protest against the remarks by the Reliance customer care executive on the voting frenzy created by Indian Idol aspirant Prashant Tamang in the region.

Freza Singh of Gangtok complained that a Reliance customer service employee had made unsavoury remarks on the Nepali-speaking populace who were voting for Prashant. According to Freza, on the night of June 8, which also happened to be the last piano round of the Indian idol, she sent a number of in favour of Prashant. She received the message ‘key word not found’ instead of the delivery report. When she called up the customer care number of Reliance and inquires about the error message, the customer care executive asked her whether she was a Nepali. When she responded positively, the executive allegedly asked her why the Nepalese were voting only for a Nepali contestant. “Don’t you all have the sense that you should also vote for others as well,” he apparently told her.

The Sikkim Journalist Forum, formed recently to campaign for Prashant had strongly condemned the remarks demanded an apology from the employee for his irresponsible statement. The Forum had submitted the entire details of the matter to Nikunj Bihari, Regional Manager of Reliance Telecom in Sikkim and had sought an earliest intervention in the matter with details of the employee who responded to Freza’s call that night.

However, when the Telecom company failed to respond within the stipulated time given by the Forum, the different organisations joined hands and decided to gheraoed the Reliance office here. When Mr. Bihari was confronted by the crowd, he failed to come up with any explanation. The angry protestors then decided to take Mr. Bihari to the Sadar Thana here to sort out the matter.

A long discussion took place in the Police Station here between the Police, the protestors and Reliance manager. Finally, the Company send an apology letter through e-mail. The letter sent by Rajesh K. Dassani, Divisional General Manager (sales) of Reliance Telecom, apart from apologizing to the Sikkimese people, also says that such statements hurting the sentiments of any community will be not repeated in the future.

With matters resolved with Reliance, the protestors then decided to visit the BSNL office here and met with SM Roy Chaudhary, General Manager. Issues such as the non-delivery of BSNL sms to 2525 were discussed during the meeting. The protesters were informed that the Sony Television’s server can receive only 50 sms per minute and there is huge pressure on the system during peak voting hours. The GM assured of full co-operation from BSNL, Gangtok in future.

Between all this, the Forum is finding time to campaign for Prashant all over the State.