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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Emraan Hashmi denied house in Mumbai: What government can do to curb communal societies and ghettoes?

Bollyood actor Emraan Hashmi has said that he was denied a flat at Pali Hills in Mumbai because of his religion. He says that he was advised to buy it in his wife's name [she is a Hindu].

I have written several posts on this issue in the past couple of years. Yes, it's a major problem but it becomes a news when a celebrity says it. Shabana Azami said it once and it had generated a big debate.

TV Actor Amir Khan [not the film star] had approached court when he was denied a house by a residential society. And now it's Emraan Hashmi.

Frankly, he has fat pockets and can get a flat at ten other locations. His grievance is genuine but his victimhood may not elicit empathy*. However, it is a different matter that this is now a national problem and the real victims are poor and middle-class families. Not just Muslims, earlier it was the Sikh community that faced this problem [post 1984] and later other groups have also faced it.

Certain groups also try to keep Bengalis, Christians and other [non-vegetarians] out. There are prejudices in our society and there is no limit to that. It's not just minorities, it's everybody--ranging from a North Indian in Maharashtra to a South Indian in North, or the North Eastern girls in Delhi.

The only positive thing, which I can see in this controversy, is that the problem will get highlighted once again. But I don't expect the dumb politicians to do something about it. On NDTV, Rajiv Pratap Rudy was unwilling to listen. Salman Khurshid tried to tread middle path but had no solution. There was Shahid Siddiqui also on the panel but apart from the heated exchanges, nothing emerged of it.

What the government can do?

Personally I feel that the government can do a lot to change the situation. Can't they offer some privileges and concessions to such societies that will keep a few minorities (cultural and religious) as members. Besides, if government just offers 10% discount in registry or reduction in other taxes if the builder manages to have more than 10-20% people belonging to different communities. That's my suggestion. Surely the experts can come up with more and much better ways.

It will stop the ghettoisation. And also lead to integration. There should be colonies where South Indians, Bengalis, Punjabis, Gujaratis live together along side. Unfortunately, there is a tendency that people tend to form their own ghettoes--some do it willingly while others are forced to do it.

For example in most cities there is a trend that a community, say, Kayasthas would go for a colony where all Srivastavas, Saxenas, Nigams, Bhatnagars would live and also have a Chitragupta Mandir. Similarly, many of the Gujaratis, the Jains, the Telugus, the Punjabis also for same.

Muslims are probably the worst victim of this discrimination. But it is a problem that warrants action from the government, as well as the society. Unfortunately the celebrities are happy in their cocoon of comfort and when they get a feel of real life, they get hurt.

And when they speak up, it becomes an issue for a while. But after a couple of days of discussions on TV channels and editorials in newspapers, everybody will once again forget it. We, Indians, are known for the 'chalta hai' attitude.

We don't want a Keralite!

A Malayali family was about to shift into their new house when they received a call. The lady who called up had the guts to ask the family, to find a house somewhere else. The Malayali Hindu family was flabbergasted. How can someone has the audacity.

But the lady on phone went on. 'We are veggies and came to know that you are going to occupy the house in our neighbourhood. So we thought that we should inform you and tell that you might find some other house.'

This happend to my friend. His sister, who was naturally angry, blasted the lady. Incidentally, here the houses were located at a distance, as it was not a multi-storey building where flats are often too close.

Incidentally, the lady who made the phone call was Jain. So here it was a member of majority community ie Hindu Malayalis asked to remain out of a society. It is also an example of biases.

Now. Back to Emraan Hashmi*. Yes, he can afford to buy flats and pay huge rents. So he is probably not a sufferer in that sense. Because the real victim is the one who can't pay higher price and wonders whether he should take his family to footpath when he doesn't get a house on rent due to his religion.

They are the real sufferers. Well, at least eight out of ten persons will refuse to give their house to a Muslim. It has been a personal experience. If they are polite they will say that they can't accommodate a non-vegetarian. Some are direct and say it on your face.

You feel humiliated and rejected. For cine stars, this sort of rejection is rare and this hurts their ego. However, the communal division in cities has worsened in the last two decades and it needs to be tackled seriously.

'Muslim' Imran Hashmi

It may be harsh on Hashmi but someone may ask where was Mr Hashmi, when others were discriminated or persecuted in his own city and backyard. Others may include Muslims in Gujarat carnage. Wasn't he a Muslim then? Why he didn't speak for other 'victims'.

The others would include Christians who were attacked in Orissa or say North Indians getting beaten up in Maharashtra and Dalits facing atrocities elsewhere. True, most of the people speak only when they face a problem, else they don't bother.

The problem lies in the fact that everybody would play victim but nobody would start or at least support a movement of civil rights. [Though this is ridiculous to expect someone to become an activist before raising an issue concerning himself, Celina Jaitley must be lauded for her conviction as she spoke for gays. All of us could well learn from her.]

Also, there is a right-wing line that if you speak of bias, you are playing the 'minority victim card'. That's also unfair. Everybody is entitled to raise their issues, especially when their fundamental rights are curbed.

There are some guys who don't like this issue raised at all by a Muslim. The plea is that, 'If there was a bias, how come he became a star. All these years his films were watched and he made moolah but never complained of it'. The truth is that we are a complex society--liberal and conservative at the same time.

Muslims may be celebrated as heroes but perhaps, may not be fit for being next door neighbours or acceptable as a son-in-law [Horror!]. Again, it's not for Muslims alone. Apart from castes and regions, [dark complexioned or non-English speakers, just to name a few] also face different sort of biases in various strata of society ranging from marriage to job.

The sufferers will continue to suffer and Indian cities will keep getting divided and demarcated among religious lines, unless we all realise, react and raise the issue forcing the government to take a serious note of it.

Hashmi has done well to approach the Minority Commission. People tend to be biased but institutional bias is criminal and against the spirit of constitution. We are a multi-cultural society and this is our greatest strength. Bigoted builders and communal colonisers must not be allowed to tamper with India's social fabric.

Past articles on this blog on this issue:
1. Builders boycott: Pushing Indian Muslims into ghettoes
2. No house for Muslims in Mumbai: Shabana Azami's comments
3. At last, a bank for Juhapura
4. What about ghettoes of caste groups?

16 comments:

Anser Azim said...

This shows how fragmented we are even in the 21st century. This happens to Shabana, Aamir, Saif and Mr Hashmi who are liberal, bear only Muslim names and hardly practice Islam. What will happen to to a scull capped, God fearing Indian Muslim man who was given the right to practice his religion in our constitution.Same to a Hijabi woman whose rights to practice religion is guaranteed in Indian constotution. I get emails for property and flats sales regularly with all facilities including temple and parks. I did ask once how far a mosque is located from the property site.. there was deep silence.. In a 21st century India Muslims and Hindus are going to live in segrgation formany reasons in the coming century and how this will affect all of us this is yet to be realized... Why the secular majority India is quiet on these issues.. Was this not a factor for those who decided to favor partition of the country!!! 150 million second class citizens is a big number in an emerging super power of the world!!
best wishes
anser azim chicgo

Balajee Diwakar said...

Today morning I was thinking whether I should write to you to get your opinion on this issue. And here it is. I feel that you have presented the problem in the right perspective -- this is a problem repeatedly faced by different communities in India. Of course I agree Muslims are the biggest sufferers. I am staying in Noida and apart from the army people, there are mostly migrant people in housing societies. I was very surprised to find only one member out of 138 members in my housing society belonging to Muslim community. I have closely seen the working of this Housing Society and there is definitely no discrimination against people from Muslim community, however I still can not find a reason why there is only a single member from Muslim community in the whole society.
I also appreciate the fact that Emraan has gone to the Minority Commission. If people discriminate on the basis of Religion, they must be taken to court for falling in line.

Anonymous said...

same old ranting.
why the muslims are trying to envade the delicate social fabric of our society.
being nonvegetarian is not an big issue but blowing up temples is big one.
first muslims should try to clean up their society.
And yes..u said that muslim is unacceptable as son-in-laws..can u tell why hindu boys are beheaded for marrying muslim girls.
Why hindu boys are unacceptable as son-inlaws to Muslims.
Hashmi is not a good actor but on this issue he is giving is best performance of life...kudos to Pseudo-secularists.

mohammadshamim said...

India needs a strong effective and harsh law like POTA, or Anti Terrorist Act to deal with racial/regional discrimination. Half of Indian society ills will be solved for ever. Militancy in the whole Eastern India or in Jharkhand and MP is one of the product of this malise.

Too much 'coop mandook' society. By nature, we just cannot stand other human being. Look at Maharashtra, the biggest culprit state, sucking all the wealth of India and hating all other Indians. We just want to live in groups of our own, feel safe and unchalleged in food, in attitudes, in our prayers.
In USA, the beginner Indians had created one Association for all Indians. Then, we were all Indians. Today, in America, we have literally two dozen societies- American-Indian Tamil,..Gujrati,..Malyali,..Bengali, Andhra, Bihari, Bangla, Karnataka, Pakistani (olden times, even Pakistanis were a part of Indian associations) you name it, you have it.
You need a great leader like Gandhi to bring this much needed change, er..I mean not our poor chap Varun Gandhi!

urdudaaN said...

Seriously speaking, did we do anything to liberate the untouchables from the Brahmanical opperession? No, the shudras had to do it themselves. Given this fact, I don't know what Muslims can do to address this. There are only 2 bad solutions: create your own ghettoes or change religion(name at least).
Only a serious govt can address this menace daringly, which we definitely don't have.
I don't see a solution and am not sad about it either, so be it. As you sow, so you reap, meaning I will reciprocate this "civility".

Sadee said...

www.urduplanet.com very nice site for urdu lovers

Anonymous said...

This has been going on since the start of times. In every villege/town/city of India(at least i have seen north and west) this is how people have been living. You have one Muhalla for Baniyas, another for Thakurs etc etc. Then you have Harijans living on the outskirts...
Its good that people are starting to show their objection to it. Its not gonna change in few years but may be in few decades we will have people living together...

Anonymous said...

can aperson who eats pork can get a place in a totally muslim building in india then why so much drama on a vegetarian society's rules for accomodation?

indscribe said...

Anon: Anser Azim, Balaji, Shameem, Urdudaan thanks for your valuable comments.

Anon 1: Anon, you have once again shown your cheap mentality by comparing bomb blasts.

Anon 2: Yes, there were Brahmanpuras, Harijan tolas and Kayastha pattis but just like untouchability these things were vanishing after independence and largely went out of fashion in urban India. However, communalism keeps growing and so does this form of discrimination.

Anon 3: Many Christians live in Muslim owned buildings and nobody gives a thought what he or she eats. Don't many Muslims drink and eat whatever they want? Your problem is that you are bred on biases and would go to any length by imagining things--just for the sake of argument.

And Hindus are not largely a veggie society. Except some upper caste and Marwari-Jain households, majority of Hindus also eat non-veg food.

Abhijit said...

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/Hashmis-U-turn-No-discrimination-for-being-Muslim/articleshow/4877467.cms

Not sure if there was anything shady about the whole affair... But 'things' tend to resolve themselves in our society. This is not necessarily a good thing, as then these things simmer and foster bitterness, hatred and rioting tendencies.
So does anyone want to start figuring out who is the a-hole here?

Options[choose all that apply]*
1) Emran
2) Emran's broker, some arora guy
3) The housing society
4) The flat owner
5) The 'media' , includes organized (TV, newspapers...) and disorganied (blogs...)
6) All of the above.

* - (in random order, I dont want to be the 'one')

Sheela said...

have you seen these developments on the equal opportunities commission:

http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/open-letter-on-the-equal-opportunities-commission-bill.html

http://indianmuslims.in/discrimination-by-housing-societies-possible-legal-responses/

thought you might be interested.

Sheela said...

have you seen these developments on the equal opportunities commission:

http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/open-letter-on-the-equal-opportunities-commission-bill.html

http://indianmuslims.in/discrimination-by-housing-societies-possible-legal-responses/

Anonymous said...

I wonder why the blog writer hasnt yet made corrections to his posts after all that Hashmi claimed turned out to be completely bogus , false and a pure publicity stunt.

Not even a line of regret for ur rant against the majority community?

Talking about biases, I dont how a muslim neighbour will feel if I was to carry in front of him a packet of pork and cook it and eat it. He will feel hurt and he has every right to tell me to stop doing it as it hurts his relgiious sentiments. Sameway the jain lady was justified in what he say.

BTW jains are a diff religion and not part of hinduism. They dont discriminate on the basis of a religion but they do have a bias towards veggies.Dont bring religion into such trash talk.

Ours is a nation of prejudices. being a bihari, I find it more difficult to get a house anywhere as I am branded a goon ds at the very first meeting with a landlord. I have never made any noises about it. If i cant get a house from someone,i will go get it fom someone else. Why keep fretting about it.

indscribe said...

Anon @ I think you have read the post cursorily. I have written that Hashmi's case may not draw the sort of empathy and that it may or may not be a case of discrimination, the issue is larger--communities getting insulated from each other.

Mostly it is the problem of middle class and poor who can't afford to pay through their nose and offer tempting rent or purchase price.

To say...taking pork and showing it while eating...is ridiculous and extreme. Who does it?

Be sensible. Indian Muslims voluntarily never consumed bovine meat (cow) as it hurts Hindu sensibilities. Even in places where Muslims are a majority, they don't do it.

The larger question is citizen's rights. Neither all Muslims are alike, nor are all Hindus.

I know Jains are not Hindus but they lead Hindus these days. Just for example Pravin Togadia who never openly says that he is Jain but abuses Muslims more than anyone.

He is the leader of VHP. Neither Hindus disown him or Jains. What he is? An opportunist who uses the Hindu garb to spread hatred among Hindus regarding Muslims, and in process hurt this nation.

Amit J said...

hello sir,
I am quite impressed by your writings.Although I am not a muslim,I am deeply hurt about the fact that the minority community has to face so much discrimination.

One question to those who use the 'non-vegetarian' argument against muslims.....
Do you not send your children to the States and Europe or Dubai for that matter where they have to live with 'non vegetarians'...Keep up the good work...Jai Hind

Shankar said...

Hi, giving house to non-vegetarians is a genuine problem faced by vegetarians, and even non-veg Hindus will be denied.

Most Hindus shudder to think their house will be used for animal slaughter at the next id festival.

I recently saw in Mumbai how muslim flat owners had tied goats in the parking lot, some were slaughtering goats within the flat premises. It is illegal because only abbatoirs can slaugther.

But people don't care. Hindus in the flats were nervous/pissed.

I will rent my house to guy who follows the country's laws, irrespective of his religion.