Can’t accept apology from Delhi Golf Club, says victim

Shillong: Tailin Lyngdoh, the tribal Khasi woman, who was subjected to discrimination at the Delhi Golf Club for wearing her traditional dress, on Saturday said that the she cannot reconcile with those who broke her heart.

“I will never accept any apology as I was deeply hurt by the manner in which I was insulted and discriminated against. I would also never set foot in the Club ever again,” Lyngdoh told journalists.

“If you try and fix a broken glass, you won’t be able to hide the cracks of the glass. Therefore, it will be difficult for me to accept any apology from them now,” she stated.

On June 25, Lyngdoh, a governess, had gone to the Club, along with her employer Nivedita Barthakur, after they were invited for lunch by a Club member.

Some 15-20 minutes into the lunch, two Club officials asked Lyngdoh to leave the table and the Club, saying her dress was a “maid’s uniform” and also allegedly hurled racial abuses.

Lyngdoh, who finally reached Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya, Saturday afternoon, met and shared with the members of Meghalaya State Women’s Commission and women’s rights activists on the unfortunate incident at the elitist golf club for wearing a Jainsem.

“I felt hurt and insulted when I was discriminated against at the Club, which is in my own homeland. I have been to many clubs and restaurants abroad but no has ever insulted me,” Lyngdoh, who with her employer Nivedita Barthakur, said.

“I want the Meghalaya government and civil society groups and my fellow tribesmen to come forward in taking up the incident which happened at the Club, so that no such discrimination is meted out to anyone in the future,” she said.

Meanwhile, Barthakur appealed to the people across the northeastern states to come out in support of Lyngdoh.

“This is not the first time that such an incident has happened. These things keep happening. Therefore, I am appealing to the people of the Northeast to stand up together.

“Here is a lady who was humiliated for her profession, for the way she looks and for the way she dressed. Let us not just make it into Tailin’s voice alone. It should be the voice of everyone. Enough is enough,” Barthakur said.

On her meeting with the women’s commission Chairperson, she said: “I am convinced that they are with us and will take proactive action. We are going back with hope.”

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who had raised the issue with Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, said such discrimination needs to be condemned by one and all.

He had also urged the central government to direct Delhi Police to file a suo motu case against the Delhi Golf Club for the racial abuse.

“All legal options available as per the Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 and more will be taken advantage of, so that such behaviour is not repeated,” Sangma said.

The Meghalaya State Women’s Commission, which held a meeting with prominent women’s organisations, has unanimously condemned the “despicable act of discrimination and racism” and lack of grace on the part of the management of the Club.

“The comments made by the management on the attire of Lyngdoh has gravely insulted and hurt the sentiments of Khasis (a tribal community in Meghalaya). Further, the comments made violated the social and cultural rights of Lyngdoh,” commission’s Chairperson, Theilin Phanbuh said.

In a Khasi society which is egalitarian, all Khasi women would wear the Jainsem, which was the traditional attire of the Khasis and the same was worn by the Khasis in India and abroad, she said.

“It (Jainsem) represents the identity of a woman who wears it every day and it is the most modest, dignified, graceful, versatile and elegant attire. India is a land of unity in the midst of diversity and as such, it is unfortunate that the management of the Club cannot make a distinction between a traditional Indian attire and that of a neighboring country,” Phanbuh said.

The Jainsem has been showcased in many fashion shows, including the Lakme Fashion Week as well as the London Fashion Week, World Intellectual Property Organisation and many others.

“It is unfortunate that the world is aware and appreciates the Jainsem whereas our Indian brethren are ignorant of the same,” Phanbuh said.