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Software engineer Usman Ahmad’s family recently bought a section of a house in the Maliwada locality of Meerut, from telecom business owner Sanjay Rastogi. However, he soon found himself at the center of a sectarian conflict.
Sitting in his family’s current one room house, he muses: “If I am selling my property, say a mobile phone online, what is the reason behind it? I just want to sell my property and anyone can buy it — woman or man, Hindu or Muslim. My concern is that the property should be sold.”
“We wanted a house of our own. My father’s on duty at night, so we wanted to buy a house close to the school. Moreover, this house does not have enough space for all of us. Hence, we purchased that property. But some people made it an issue and said that we were doing land jihad,” says Usman.
“When we reached the [new] house, some people came and said that the house cannot be sold because Rastogi owed them money. While he was explaining that he was in the process of paying debts and that the property had nothing to do with that, some others reached the house and started sloganeering. They said that a Muslim family cannot be given the property,” Usman elaborated.
Pro-Hindutva groups quickly stepped in and attacked the right of Muslims to purchase property. General Secretary of the BJP’s youth wing, Deepak Sharma claimed that Hindus are “continuously selling properties… Muslims are buying them”. “Their culture, thoughts and way of life are different from ours. It starts with one house and slowly, the whole area will become Muslim-dominated. We cannot allow this to happen,” says Sharma.
Says Varsha Rastogi, who is related to Sanjay Rastogi added, “This is an ancestral property which belongs to his family and has been partitioned. Our portion of the house shares a terrace, two passages including one entry to their house. How will we live here if they move in?”
As the dispute escalated, the police arrived on the scene. However, the SHO of the local police station states: “Our teams reached the spot but a consensus between the two parties was reached and we did not receive any complaint, so no FIR was registered.” The consensus refers to a ‘compromise letter’ which mandates the return of the money paid to Usman’s family and for a compromise to be reached by February 17, 2018.
“We have taken a loan from the bank worth Rs 18,50,000. There were other expenses in acquiring the house — Rs 2.5 lakh for registration, Rs 10,000 for lawyers, Rs 20,000 to get some paperwork done in order to get the bank loan, etc. We have all the papers and the property has been registered in our name. If they purchase it, we will transfer the property. The house has cost us around Rs 33 lakh. We said that we are not asking you for profit, this is the overall expenditure we have incurred. Give that to us and we will return the property to you,” says Usman.
Residents of Maliwada believe that a ‘conspiracy’ has been hatched against them. “They want to acquire as much control in this area as they can. Ours is the only Hindu pocket here. On most sides, we are surrounded by Muslim localities. Around 50-100 metres away, they have a huge Jama Masjid. If you travel for 1-1.5 kilometres to the northeast from Maliwada, you have Hashimpura where riots broke out in the 1980s,” says a resident, Devendra Johri.
Usman and his family say that they will try to avoid trouble. “People have made it a Hindu-Muslim issue and they are saying that we will not let Muslims purchase property here. We have put a lock there and it is in our possession. Now they have given us a time frame. We do not want any trouble, especially with neighbours… Some people have a different mentality,” he says.
Ref: The Express Tribune