House for Mr Ali

Tales of link between terrorism and discrimination against Muslims abound, but few show this link to be so direct, so shameless. In the aftermath of the Bombay attacks, some 300 real estate agents in Surat declared in a meeting that they will not rent or sell houses or shops to any Muslims, apparently because the terrorists who attacked Bombay had ‘local supporters’. This is but the latest pretext for discrimination which is based entirely on prejudice. Food-preference has been used to deny housing to ‘non-vegetarians’ (read Muslims) in the past.

A Bill to combat discrimination in the private (and public) sector has been on the table for a while, along with other related measures. The issue has been discussed on this blog before.

One wonders how pervasive such discrimination is. We have sporadic media reports and anecdotal evidence. Even the Sachar report does not have any data on discrimination on the grounds of religion (or other grounds, including food-preference, marital status, sexual orientation, caste, gender identity and ethnic identity) in the housing sector in India. Can anyone point to any systematic study in this area, even if it is for a small geographical region?

Written by
Tarunabh Khaitan
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  • It is sad that people are forming groups to discriminate against muslims on a large scale. Looks like this is more to punish the muslim community rather than a primal fear of existence.

    If someone needs to be blamed here, it is BJP. While congress used to use religion in a sneaky way, BJP just went all out and created these huge mistrust and gave some kind of legitimacy to such discrimination. BJP will again point out to its definitions of hindutva to distance itself from such criticisms. But the point is that the speeches and actions speak louder than the definitions.

    I am just puzzled why Congress and other UPA members who are so against BJP are still delaying this bill. It would have added more to their “secular” credentials.

  • One real estate agent association cannot be regarded as smoking gun evidence of so-called “mass discrimination” against muslims. In a country where the names of Shah Rukh and Aamir send hearts throbbing and box offices soaring, alleging that Hindus engage in “mass discrimination” against Muslims without empirical or other evidence does not make sense.
    Every group, community, caste, gender has grievances. Instead of feeding grievance mongering and victimisation notions, let’s start bringing more and more muslims into the mainstream through education and uniform personal laws and unite both communities rather than drive further wedges between them.

    Dear Anon, by the way, it was the BJP which gave us APJ Abdul Kalam as a president – one of the most inspiring figures and a great role model for Muslims and Hindus. And it was Congress which refused to give him a second term. Don’t just repeat popular stereotypes about BJP – square them with their actions and you will see that they are far more secular than Congress.

  • Dear MJB, my call for evidence is precisely to look into how pervasive the problem is – because this does not appear to be an isolated event. Media has been reporting similar cases for a while now, including the one involving Madhavi Kapur, the TV actor Aamir Ali, actor Saif Ali Khan etc. These links will tell you that even the veyr popular and rich Muslims do not manage to get a flat in a ‘Hindu’ society. Of course, there is no evidence to find out how pervasive the problem is. But don’t you agree that even if one single person is denied housing because of her religion, it is wrong? I agree with you that looking at such problems from partisan lens hides more than it reveales. But let us at least admit sincerely that we have what looks like a problem at hand.

  • ‘Of the 5,238 flats, 28 per cent will be reserved among Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, war widows, Ex-servicemen and physically handicapped’

    Now is this a discrimination or not?.We need more studies on
    types of discrimination and their prevalence.Minority educational
    institutions can appoint a junior
    faculty from the minority community overlooking the seniority of a faculty from
    other community, even when
    the institution is 100%
    state funded.Correct me, if i am wrong. The reservation
    in institutions like St.Stephens
    College for admissions is too
    well known.Of course it can be
    argued that these are permissible
    in the name of rights of minorities. I think we need to
    study all types of discriminations, including the
    ones in the name of reservation.