Indian wedding in South Africa under fire after allegations of racism, landing of aircraft at military base

Vela Gupta

A picture courtesy of the Gupta family shows Vela Gupta and her husband, Aaskash Jahajgarhia, posing with relatives and guests during ceremonies for their wedding in Sun City, South Africa, on May 1, 2013. Gupta FamilyAFP/Getty Images

Durban, May 3 (IANS) A wedding in South Africa involving a family from India that is already considered an international incident got further mired in controversy after allegations of racism at the event.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is seething over the Gupta family wedding that is taking place over four days beginning May 1 at the Palace of the Lost City five-star hotel in Sun City.

“COSATU is informed that the family does not want to be served by the African staff members who are employed in the resort. They demand that their services must be rendered by white personnel, starting from the cleaning of their rooms, the cooking and the drivers of the shuttles they use,” the Independent Online quoted the union as saying Thursday in a statement.

The wedding of Vega Gupta, daughter of Achla Gupta, the only sister to the Gupta brothers — Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, who own the New Age newspaper and Sahara computer — came under heavy scrutiny when a chartered aircraft carrying guests for the event was allowed to land at the Waterkloof air force base near Pretoria.

The Mail and Guardian Online reported that four more high ranking officials of the South African National Defence Force and the South African Police Service were suspended in connection with the aircraft landing at the air base. Earlier, the country’s chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane was suspended even as an inquiry was ordered into the incident. The aircraft — an A330-200 of Indian carrier Jet Airways — is now parked at OR Tambo Internartional Airport near Johannesburg.

In the latest development, COSATU has alleged that the Gupta family is now under police protection at the Sun City resort and all their trips have police escorts using state vehicles.

“For us as COSATU, this is racism at its worst and this cannot be allowed to continue to take place in a country where racism is a crime,” the union said.

It also demanded withdrawal of police protection for the family and guests, saying that people on a private trip cannot be allowed state security while in the country.

Gupta family spokesman Haranath Ghosh, however, dismissed the allegations of racism.

“The guests at the wedding are cosmopolitan and made up of all races,” he was quoted as saying.

“Claims reported in the COSATU statement have not been brought to the attention of the Gupta family,” he said, adding that the family is saddened by the negative reporting surrounding the wedding.

IANS 2013-05-03 17:23:13


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