Mumbai: On Tuesday, Zeshan Ali Khan applied for a marketing job with a multi-national jewellery exports company in Mumbai. Within 15 minutes, the 23-year-old received an email that said: "We regret to inform you that we hire only non-Muslim candidates."
Two of his classmates, Mukund Mani and Omkar Bansode, also applied for the same job and they were called for interviews the very next day.
Zeshan told NDTV: "I was shocked. I took a screenshot of the email and posted it on social media... Activists from across the country said I should go to the police and file a case of religious discrimination."
An FIR or police complaint has been registered against the company, Hari Krishna Exports, which has blamed a trainee for what it called an error.
"The HR trainee who denied a job to Zeshan Khan has been suspended. The company functions without any caste, religion or gender bias. In fact, more than 50 employees are from the minority community and people from 28 states are working in our group companies," a company representative told NDTV.
The screenshot has been widely circulated on Twitter and Facebook and has sparked outrage.
Zeshan says his friends, who were eventually offered jobs by the company, have decided not to join. "They were given placements but I lost the opportunity because I had a 'Khan' in my surname," he said.
Activists and legal experts say that the company should be punished.
"We received the complaint today. If there is any truth in it, it is very unfortunate. We will study the company's response and decide on action," said Naseem Ahmed, the chairman of the National Commission for Minorities.
Zeshan completed his MBA final exams last week and applied for the job after coming across the company's ad on a recruitment portal. His experience has been brought to the government's notice. "The Constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of religion or caste. They can hire or fire anyone on the basis of merit not on the basis of religion," said Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, union Minister of State for Minority Affairs.