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Sorry! No Muslims: Mumbai housing society refuses to sell flat to Muslim family, gets arrested

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city in the true sense. At least this was the perception the rest of the country had till a couple of years back. With people from a certain religious background, namely the Muslims, facing a tough time with getting houses to live in - the Mumbai dream is on the verge of becoming a nightmare.

Mumbai's ease was the reason why millions of people from every nook and corner of the country used to flock to the City of Dreams in search of fortune. Some made it, while some did not. But the city has given something to everyone. Though not everyone got what they wanted, it has not been a deterrence for hope.

Vikar Ahmed Khan, a native of Agra in Uttar Pradesh, too came to Mumbai with a dream to make a fortune in 2003. After reaching Mumbai he entered into the glass business and started doing fairly well for himself.

He has grown financially well over last 13 years. Khan currently stays at Vasai in Palghar district, with his wife and three children. As the children grew, Khan felt the need of a bigger house. He started searching for bigger houses and got one barely a few meters away from his current residence.

Khan approached the owner of the house and completed the formalities last week. The deal was sealed and Khan needed No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the managing committee of the housing society.

He might have thought that he will lead a happier life once he shifted to Happy Jeevan Cooperative Housing Society. However, he got a shock of his life when the managing committee of the housing society refused to issue the NOC saying that the flat could not be sold to a Muslim.

No Muslims please!

The decision of the housing society was a major shock for Jignesh Patel, owner of the house who wanted to sell it to Khan. Patel, who was rather aggrieved by the decision of the managing committee, lodged a complaint with the sub-registrar of the housing societies and Vasai police.

Following the complaint, an offence was registered under sections 295 (A) and 298 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against 11 managing committee members. Nine out of 11 members were arrested on charges of hurting religious sentiments. After the arrest, the managing committee has agreed to issue the NOC to Khan. Those arrested have now been released on bail.

The managing committee denied the NOC saying that the other members objected to a non-vegetarian family. Interestingly, out of the 16 flats in the building, two are already owned by Muslims.

One of the firsts?

This is probably for the first time in that managing committee members of an appartment block were arrested on such discrimination.

It is learnt that since Khan had to apply for a housing loan to purchase the flat, he needed the NOC from the managing committee. Accordingly, Patel approached the managing committee seeking the NOC.

But instead of the NOC, he was handed a letter signed by residents of the housing society objecting to the deal, claiming that selling flat to a Muslim was not acceptable. Surprisingly, after the arrest, the managing committee has issued the NOC and apologised to Patel and Khan.

After denying flats to non-vegetarian families, this is probably the sole incident of denying flat on the basis of religion.

"It was illegal on part of the managing committee to issue such a letter. It is not at all acceptable. Since my mother Kantaben owns the flat, the letter was addressed to her. The managing committee also kind of suggested that we sell the flat to someone else, preferably from within the community," Patel said.

Patel claims that it is for the first time in the country that arrests were made for denying flat to a person on the basis of his religion. "It was surprising that they objected to my deal despite the fact that already two flats in the society were owned by Muslims. I have nothing against the members, but at the same time, I cannot let them discriminate. This is for the first time in the country that those opposing the deal on religion basis were arrested," Patel said.

"When Khan approached me with the proposal to buy the flat for the expected price, I informed the society about it and also asked if anyone in the society was interested, could go for it. But no one came forward for many days and further delay would have resulted in the cancellation of deal with Khan as well. So I went ahead with the deal," Patel said.

Vikar Ahmed Khan said, "A token amount of Rs 1 lakh was paid to Patel and I wanted the NOC for the housing loan. I preferred this flat since it is close to the place where I currently live and my children's school. Now that the members have agreed to issue the NOC, I will soon shift in the flat."

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

First published: 20 September 2016, 11:19 IST
Ashwin Aghor @CatchNews

Journalist based in Mumbai.