Comedian and disability activist Sweta Mantrii has claimed that she was forced to leave a backpacker hostel in Mumbai because her presence may make “other guests uncomfortable.” According to Mantrii—who was born with a condition called spina bifida—she arrived at Bandra’s Namastey Mumbai Backpackers hostel at 11 PM only to be told that only an upper bunk bed was available. Even though she had a reservation, the manager strongly encouraged her to look for other accommodation, refusing even to let her stay till the morning.
In an Instagram post, Mantrii said that when she arrived at the hostel, a man who seemed to be the manager asked her why she hadn’t booked a lower bunk. She replied that no such option was available while making the booking. Despite saying she was in no position to search for alternate accommodation at 11 pm at night, the manager insisted that she try looking. Eventually, Mantrii said that the manager told her, “You might be comfortable, but other guests might be uncomfortable (around you/because of you!)”
Abul Choudhary, the NMB manager, denied the allegations claiming he had no intention of discriminating against Mantrii. “What I meant was that other guests at the hostel would feel bad for her seeing the inconvenience that she would have faced, as we are not a disability-friendly establishment,” he said in a statement to Hindustan Times. Choudhary went on to say that this was also mentioned on the NMB website.
In her Instagram post Mantrii said that the NMB hostel hosts open mics and that she had approached some comics to learn more about the place and its manager. A comic had told her that it might have been a miscommunication because the manager didn’t speak English well. Regardless, Mantrii asked how the manager could make a disabled woman search for new accommodations that late at night.