Ajmal Kasab has been hanged, and some of the people who died in the 26/11 attacks have memorials made in their honour. But an uncertain fate hangs over 10 waiters who had worked with Leopold Café, one of the first locations attacked by the 10 gunmen who held Mumbai to ransom in November 2008.
Four years after the attack, in which some of the waiters had helped save lives and a couple of them succumbed to the bullets, these 10 former waiters are out on the road, said Vishwas Utagi, Secretary, All-India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), in support of the former waiters.
Dressed in their trade-mark red t-shirts with Leopold written on it, the 10 former employees say they had lost their jobs at the Café, and most of them had no official reason or document given to them. One of the former waiters, though, was asked to go for trying to form a trade union, the former waiter said on Wednesday.
The employees were also targeted because they questioned their employer on their provident fund and other such entitlements that the employer was not provisioning for, alleged AIBEA’s Utagi.
The 10 former Leopold employees and their families will go on a five-day fast at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan from Thursday, seeking intervention by the State Government.
Partner of Leopold Café, Farhang Jehani, though, could not be reached for a comment. However, a recent media report quoted Jehani saying that the waiters had misbehaved with patrons and kept tips amounting to Rs 25,000-30,000 each per month. Each of them resigned of his own accord, either amicably or after being confronted with misdemeanours, he had said. This was refuted by the former waiters, who said that they had to pay for their own uniforms, when their salary was just Rs 3,500 a month. The owner also deducted Rs 80 a head for night shifts and Rs 60 on day shifts from their tips, they alleged.
Holding up a mug with a picture of the bullet-hole from Leopold’s wall, the former employees said that the mug was being sold as memorabilia for Rs 350 and the café continues to do roaring business, with much interest coming because it was a victim of the terror-attacks. But for these former employees, some of who had helped save the patrons at the Café, it is a sad irony, says Utagi.