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Terror fallout: Surat citizens shunt out Muslims

Dec 15, 2008 08:54 AM IST India India

Surat: Experts have been fearing communal polarisation as an outcome of the recent terror attacks in Mumbai. The sufferers in that case would be people of the same religion as the terrorists, who have nothing to do with the terror issue.

There have been some reports of disharmony in certain parts of the country where realtors in a certain locality have decided to as a measure of caution, not trade in rent and lease with Muslims.

On the one hand, Muslims of Surat have been staging protests against the terror attack on Mumbai. On the other, there have been cases of estate brokers in a prime locality coming together to pass a resolution that none of them will either sell or rent out property to Muslims. Their excuse is that terrorists use local help.

"Muslims should stay in their own area. Why should they come into ours. We've decided to join hands and ensure that none of us sells or rents out houses to them," said Shashank Vaidya, a leading broker in Adajan locality.

This kind of a bizarre resolution maybe recent but many Muslims complain they have been victims of religious discrimination for years. Like college professor Sharifa Bijliwala who says that no builder was ready to sell or rent her a house. One agreed on the condition that she writes her name as S B Bijliwala.

"I consider myself neither Hindu nor Muslim, but Indian. Yet, it's my name that is causing problems. I've met at least 50 builders for a house, but in vain," said Dr Sharifa Bijliwala.

Legal experts say such discrimination amounts to a violation of fundamental rights of humans, especially citizens in a democracy where all are equal.

"Such a resolution is a violation of fundamental rights and these people should be booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code," said Babu Pathan, an Advocate.

In fact, some societies have already put up boards asking people not to sell or rent their houses outside the community. This is a sad reflection on the increasing communal polarisation in the state.