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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 July 2024

Gujarat: Spotlight on a middle-aged Muslim mom's house horror 

Residents of the low-income group housing complex of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) staged public protests against the allocation saying 'it is a Hindu-dominated peaceful area'

Pheroze L. Vincent And Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 15.06.24, 05:40 AM
A video grab of the housing complex residents staging a protest against the allocation in Vadodara.

A video grab of the housing complex residents staging a protest against the allocation in Vadodara. Sourced by the Telegraph

Activists, academics and members of the Opposition have called upon the government to step in to protect the rights of a middle-aged single mother from the Muslim community in Gujarat’s Vadodara after her neighbours protested against the allocation of an apartment meant for the poor to her under a state government scheme.

Residents of the low-income group housing complex of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) staged public protests against the allocation saying "it is a Hindu-dominated peaceful area".

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Jignesh Mevani, a Congress MLA and Dalit rights activist in Gujarat, told The Telegraph: "Everywhere Dalits, tribals, Muslims and OBCs are denied housing…. There is neither determination of the state to proactively end discrimination nor is there a will among people to get rid of this bias. Without a nationwide cultural movement, this can’t happen, either. This case is an example of how infrastructure development is not equal to cultural progress.”

He added: “A solution could be that only those housing settlements be allowed where there are all castes and communities in at least 20 to 30 per cent of the dwellings. Otherwise, we will remain in ghettos without any cultural exchange.”

In Tamil Nadu, settlements under the state government's Periyar Ninaivu Samathuvapuram (Periyar Memorial Equality Village) housing scheme are compulsorily allotted to a mix of communities with common facilities such as halls and cemeteries.

The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, imposes restrictions on property sale — especially between people of different faiths — in places with a history of rioting. Originally intended to prevent the distress sale of property after riots, the law is blamed by critics for causing ghettoisation based on religion.

Enakshi Ganguly, executive director of the Housing and Land Rights Network, told this paper: "This is a fit case for PM (Narendra Modi) and home minister (Amit Shah) to intervene, as they are from Gujarat, and their doing so would send a strong message that this won’t be tolerated….The state must stand for the constitutional rights of the woman to live where she wants to."

Enakshi added: “By not doing so, they are standing with the mob, which is against the right to equality.”

The Indian Express, on Friday, quoted a memorandum from the Motnath Residency Cooperative Housing Services Society Limited to the collector, mayor, VMC commissioner and Vadodara police commissioner, asking them to shift the 44-year-old single mother out.

It says: “We believe that Harni area is a Hindu-dominated peaceful area and there is no settlement of Muslims in the periphery of about four kilometres…. It is like setting fire to the peaceful life of 461 families.”

The report added that residents had protested since 2020 against the allotment to the woman, who is employed with a Union government establishment, and 33 of them have formally complained to the authorities. The woman lives with her parents elsewhere in the city.

VMC officials did not respond to calls, messages or an email from this newspaper.

Delhi University professor Apoorvanand posted on X: “It needed to be mentioned that residents are Hindus, who are disallowing a rightful owner, a Muslim, to live in her house. This is deep communalisation of the Hindu society and they flaunt it. No state intervention!”

Ahmedabad-based social activist Nirjhari Sinha wrote on X: “Out of 462 housing units only one unit was allotted to a middle-aged Muslim woman in Vadodara under the Mukhyamantri Awas Yojana, other residents protested. They feel they are not safe, I feel the woman is not safe in such a hate-filled, bigoted society!”

Members of Opposition parties sought intervention by ruling party heavyweights.

RJD MP Manoj Jha told PTI: “What has happened to this country? This hatred will destroy everyone. I urge the PM and the home minister to not let this happen and save everyone.”

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