Discrimination based on a person’s identity and position in society has surfaced in residential societies across Ghaziabad. The prevailing prejudice of keeping maids, vendors and electricians, among others, at an arm's distance by asking them to use service lifts instead of regular lifts has sparked a huge debate among residents. City Spidey visited several societies in Crossings Republik, Ghaziabad, to delve deeper.
Residents told City Spidey that their society managing committees had barred maids and other domestic helps from using regular lifts and asked them to stick to service lifts only. They also pointed at the fact that the step was taken by the management based on requests from residents.
Vikas Kamboj, a resident of Mahagun Mascot in Crossings Republik, told City Spidey that a luxury tower in the society, named Majestic, had a board that displayed this diktat. “We tried protesting against the step but to no avail," said Kamboj. "It is reminiscent of British-era discrimination against Indians.”
Several maids who work in the area said they felt discriminated against because of this step and had often been reprimanded by security guards for using regular lifts. We found out that the practice was prevalent in societies such as Supertech Livingston, Ajnara Gen X, Paramount Symphony and Mahagun Mascot, among others. “We normally refrain from complaining about this issue because it invites unnecessary trouble for us and puts our jobs at risk," said Neha, a maid. "There have been times when we have been made to wait till residents reach their respective floors.”
When asked who had made the rules, she said the guards had told her it was the residents; decision.
“Paramount Symphony has the same rules for us," said Gulari, a domestic help. "That's why I stopped working there and took up work in Panchsheel instead."
Similar views were shared by Krishan Kumar, a tailor, who collects door-to-door orders in many societies. “I have seen several instances where people from our social background are ill-treated," said Kumar. "I'm not even surprised now."
Describing the act as a violation of human rights, Pooja Shrivastava, resident of Ajnara Gen X, said her maid had faced discrimination several times. "At times, residents have asked her to wait outside the lift so they would not have to travel with her," said Shrivastava. “Next time someone from the society says such things to my maid, I am going to identify them and file police complaints for discrimination,” she added.
When asked about how this practice came about, the maintenance manager of Mahagun Mascot said, “This rule was implemented a year ago as an attempt to save lifts from damage. Milkmen and other vendors travel with big containers, which can potentially damage elevators.”
When asked about the notices installed in the lifts allowing only "residents and guests", he got defensive and said, “We have not stopped maids from using the lifts. The notice is only for certain vendors who are denied access.” However, he later accepted the discrimination and said, "Majestic Tower is the only tower which has three lifts, with one separate lift for maids and vendors. All the other towers have just two lifts. This tower contains 100 flats and more than 70 families. It was sold as a luxury tower, and the residents would like to feel superior to others.”
Sudhanshu Gupta, the RWA president of Mahagun Mascot, said, "Well, this practice is only followed in the Majestic Tower and has been initiated by its residents.”
When asked about the RWA’s consent in this, he said, “The RWA has not approved any such act of discrimination. The occupants of Majestic Tower went against the RWA and imposed the rule a year back and have kept it that way till now. The previous RWA president, who allowed it to happen, was a resident of the tower.”
He added that they were dealing with bigger issues such as illegal construction by the builder, and that this had been pushed to the backburner.
The maintenance manager of Paramount Harmony said there was no such practice and denied knowledge of any such rule in the society. However, on asking Arun Agnihotri, a security guard posted in one of the towers of the society, he confirmed that such rules did exist. He also said that the rule had been put into practice on the request of residents.
A Facebook post shared by one of the residents discouraging this practice also garnered mass attention, with people pouring in with their sentiments and appealing to abolish it. One of the comments said, “This is why this country will never progress. Others will discriminate against us tomorrow, because we discriminate against the people of our own kind today.”