If you are a Muslim and looking forward to rented accommodation in a Society in Delhi NCR, it’s as arduous a task as it is in Mumbai and Gujarat because when you try getting an accommodation, you slowly realize that the question of religion keeps cropping up in your face with several people out rightly denying giving accommodation on rent to a Muslim. This is exactly what this RNI correspondent found the hard way when he went on an apartment searching drive in Sector 62/63 in Noida.
RNI is in possession of several audio recordings of conversation with house owners, guards in various societies, caretakers of apartments and brokers which will reveal that the subject of religion do keep cropping up with the difference that while some owners out rightly said they don’t lend their accommodation to Muslims, majority of others who were fully ready to talk about rent till they were not aware of the name and thus the religion of the would-be tenant started giving excuses like we won’t be giving the apartment on rent for couple of months, our friend is interested in moving here or we are going for interior renovation. RNI even found to dismay that the house-owners who had given an excuse they would be going for interior renovation or won’t be giving the house on rent for couple of months, gave it on rent the moment they got another rent-seeker. Moreover, there were many others who agreed that giving apartment on rent to a Muslim was a problem, albeit in some circles.
As this correspondent found out, suspicion and more than that, the fear that they themselves might land up in trouble, is so deep-rooted in the minds of several apartment owners belonging to the majority community that it results in some of them playing safe by totally denying giving the apartments to Muslims.
However, as is being pointed out, it is not a phenomenon that has emerged consequent to the coming of the BJP Government in the Centre. Though Muslims themselves may be blamed to an extent for such situations to emerge, particularly because of the involvement of members of their community in various acts of terrorism, most Muslims are of view that the condition has worsened in recent past because the BJP-affiliate organizations like the VHP and RSS have carried out a systematic propaganda drive through various media to portray the Muslim community in a negative way so much so that it is becoming difficult for the youth of the community to get jobs and those seeking rented-accommodation to get houses on rent. If present Narendra Modi Government has to be blamed, it is because it has failed to reach out to the members of the minority community nor has been able to check those who are brewing hatred and ill-will against the community either on social media or through various other means.
Those in the know point out that the propaganda drive is not India-centric alone. The vested interests of some Western and Middle East countries in the oil and gas rich Middle-East and North Africa totally dominated by the Muslims led to propagation of anti-Muslim sentiments among Christians and Jews. Their job was made easy because of their high stakes in the World Power and in the media. In India, RSS and its affiliates became an easy allies to this because of their long-lasting plans focused on the Muslims. Thus, the propaganda!
Some people whom RNI talked too, are of the view that while Muslims from weak financial and social background were picked up by crime agencies, last few years saw a lot many educated youth and successful professionals being caught up. Even when the courts have set free most of those caught on various terrorism-related charges, the vicious propaganda that was carried out at the time these people were caught and the harassment that the house-owners had to meet at the hands of the police, has led to creation of ill-will not just against those found guilty but against the whole community. A great number of people on the social media too are ceaselessly working to further discord and ill-will and the authorities have till yet kept their eyes closed; the number of people working on social media with just Muslims as targets is so large that it gives impression that a full-fledged campaign is at work.
The Audio Recordings Say It All
The audio recordings that RNI is in possession with during this correspondent’s attempt to find a house in Delhi/NCR reveal the menace is deeper than it is being portrayed. The question of religion kept coming up at several places when this correspondent went in search of an apartment and despite he giving consent for police verification, there were still people who refused to give apartments to Muslims.
It must be clarified here that this correspondent was initially genuinely looking for an apartment. Only when he realized that it is not as easy a job as he had thought and the subject of religion cropped up at many a places that the journalistic vein got aroused and he decided to record some of the conversations.
In the first recording, the guard takes this correspondent to a lady who was the caretaker of two apartments in a society. As long as the religion was not known, the guard said the only condition was that the rent should be paid in time and other residents should not get disturbed. When this correspondent informed that he was a Muslim, the guard agreed this could be a problem and brought the subject in front of the caretaker. The lady caretaker agreed that religion becomes a problem at a few places and said she would talk to the landlords of the two apartments and let the guard know the response. Next day, however, the guard responded that the lady caretaker has said that either of the two apartments were not available. This correspondent found out that the two apartments remained vacant for several days thereafter.
In the second recording, this correspondent can be heard talking to a property broker. The correspondent said it has become an unfortunate situation that one has to ask whether the apartment is available to Muslims. He even went on to say that this is a problem that has largely been created by Muslims. In response, the broker agreed and said that if few people commit bad deeds, the rest suffer. He agreed that it is a losing situation for everybody. He even said that similar rules have been made by some societies for the bachelors because of certain acts committed by them. There are bachelors who belong to good families, but they too face problem in getting apartments.
In the third recording, the guard upon knowing that the rent seeker was a Muslim tells his accomplice to check with the owner before going ahead with any rental processes whether he would give the rent to a Muslim.
In the fourth recording, the correspondent even jokingly told the guard showing the apartment that either he would have to change his name or his religion. The guard laughed in return.
In the fifth recording, Madhup Sachan – the manager of a society – took this correspondent along to show him a vacant apartment whose owner worked in a public sector company in Panipat. Later, he gave the number of the owner in Panipat. The owner initially said that he had no problem giving the apartment to a Muslim but said his friend in Delhi will carry on the necessary verification. The Delhi friend, claiming to be a local BJP worker, refused saying he has told the owner not to give the apartment to a Muslim to avoid any problem later.
The sixth recording also pertains to conversation with a property dealer, Virender Chauhan. This property dealer said the apartment was vacant but the apartment owners only give the apartment to those working in the IT sector. This correspondent jokingly said he needed the house now but would try to send the children in the IT field. During the subsequent conversation, the broker agreed that some societies do have problem giving the apartment on rent to Muslims.
Islamophobia, they say, is a term coined by Muslims to silence criticism. It is time now to rethink and discuss this claim once again. True, that the same societies do have some Muslim families living but it appears the apartments have been given to them by people who do not believe in any divide on religious lines. But the writing is on the wall. As this writer found to his utter dismay, being a Muslim in modern India surely seems to be a disadvantage and it will continue to be so unless immediate corrective measures are taken by those in power.
Aziz Haider / RNI News Bureau