New Delhi, 22 June 2015: The growing incidents of discrimination in housing with Muslims and also with Dalits even in cosmopolitan cities like Mumbai and Delhi have come as a big cause of concern for the leaders of the affected communities. While blaming the communal atmosphere created by petty interests of politics for such discrimination, community leaders suggest two measures to check the menace: Political empowerment of Muslims and Dalits and their social interaction with upper caste Hindus.
Around a month after a Mumbai company denied job to a Muslim MBA graduate on religious ground – making it a national issue – a study on housing discrimination with Muslims and Dalits in five metro cities of National Capital Region of Delhi has come to light and shock of many who considered Delhi as the most cosmopolitan and migrant-friendly city.
The study, led by Prof S K Thorat, former University Grants Commission chairman and presently chairman of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, has covered attempts to get houses on rent in Delhi, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Noida between January and March 2012. The study will be published in the Economic & Political Weekly.
According to the study, 1,469 people (that included equal number of upper caste Hindus, Dalits and Muslim) contacted Hindu house owners/ brokers over phone for rent. None of the upper caste Hindus got rejection slip, but 18% Dalits and 31% Muslims were denied house on rent. Similarly, 198 people (including equal number of upper caste Hindus, Dalits and Muslim) met them face to face seeking house on rent. While 3% of the upper caste Hindus were refused house on rent, 44% Dalits and 61% Muslims were handed over rejection slip.
Zafarul Islam Khan
“Hindutva groups like RSS and BJP are responsible for the situation. They have vitiated the communal atmosphere of the country resulting in growing hatred against Muslims,” said Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, President, All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat.
He further said that such brazen discrimination is creating more Muslim ghettos. He expressed apprehension that if the tendency was not checked it will greatly harm the plural social structure of the country.
However, Dr SQR Ilyas, national president of Welfare Party of India holds two things responsible for the situation – negative image of Muslims in the eye of Hindus and less social interaction and involvement of Muslims with Hindus.
“There are two aspects. Negative propaganda about Muslims and Islam in the wake of terror incidents has created bad image of Muslims and RSS and its affiliates have a big role in making such image of Muslims,” said Dr Ilyas.
“The second reason is Muslims being unsocial. The way they should have get involved in country’s issues they didn’t. They have no or less interaction with Hindus, and less involvement in social issues. Whenever they interacted with Hindus, misconceptions were removed and good relations were restored,” he said.
To tackle the issue of discrimination in housing or job, Dr Ilyas suggested two measures.
“Muslims should increase interaction, remove misconception about Muslims and Islam and should get involved in common issues.”
“The government should also ensure mixed demography in housing colonies and cooperative colonies to which it provide facilities and resources. The government should put condition of Muslim’s presence in such colonies before sanctioning any facilities,” said Dr. Ilyas.
Bhai Tej Singh
However, Bhai Tej Singh, national president of Ambedkar Samaj Party takes the issue in larger perspective. “Caste Hindus don’t want to see Dalits and Muslims. It is the Constitution that is holding them,” said Singh and suggested political empowerment of Dalits and Muslims as the only measure to tackle the issue.
“It is actually a disease and it can be removed only through political empowerment of Dalits and Muslims. These two communities should come together and join hands,” he said.