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26/03/2024 Akash Singh Culture Views 285 Comments 0 Analytics Video English DMCA Add Favorite Copy Link
The Disturbed Areas Act of Gujarat (also known as ‘Ashant Dhara’)
Episode 1
Four years ago, I called a property agent in Vadodara to inquire about the availability of any rental property. Although I lived in the city with my family, I just wanted to understand the go-abouts of finding a rental accommodation. I explained that I am a single woman working in a multinational in Vadodara looking for a well-furnished apartment with at least 2 bedrooms in a good locality, with no specific cap on the rent. The agent was very pleased. He introduced me to many available deals in perfect localities and talked to me for a good 12-15 mins. We even fixed an appointment to meet and check the properties in person. But just before closing the call, he asked me for a name. And that was enough to break the deal. He told me in a direct tone, “Madam, if you are a Muslim, you cannot get the properties we discussed. It is better if you find some of your own agents who can show you some house in a Muslim locality.”

Episode 2
Five of my colleagues, originally from Uttar Pradesh, invested in properties in a residency at the Ajwa bypass road. I witnessed the residential-commercial complex coming up, and it looked quite decent. I got to know through my colleagues that the property rates offered by the builder were quite competitive and it would turn out to be a fruitful investment for the future. So, I asked two of my colleagues to discuss with the builder about selling one more unit to their ‘Muslim’ woman colleague along with it, and she needs no discounts. The builder plainly refused, and after some discussion and insistence was also ready to cancel the 5-units already sold.

Episode 3
By now we understood that it would be difficult for us to get a property of our choice in a city where my family and ancestors lived from time immemorial, and that we would either have to compromise on the locality or increase our budget to get a house in a premium residency where I being a Muslim didn’t matter. I chose the latter and booked an apartment way out of budget. It was a nightmare. The thought about the number of years that would go into repaying the loan scared me to the core. I couldn’t sleep straight for 5 nights. It was then when I discussed the matter with my family and canceled the deal even after paying a hefty booking amount.

Episode 4
5 days ago, my brother messaged me the details of an upcoming residency in the Gotri area. It looked fine and on budget, close to what I had been looking for. I asked him to call the booking office immediately and discuss. The call didn’t last longer than 2 mins. My brother’s name was enough to decide that we aren’t ‘eligible’ for the property.

Episode 5
I got to know recently through a close Hindu friend that some residents of the Bhayli area had approached the authorities to request them to declare this area as a ‘disturbed’ area as well, so that the selling of properties to the Muslim citizens around them can come to a halt. The authorities rejected their request. But look at the level up to which this separation has extended its roots!
I may be well-educated, have a high paying job, intention to support the nation and society, the ability to voice my opinion but this law has robbed me and many like me of my right and freedom to live in a house of my choice. If this is not marginalization, then what is?
Many of you, my friends, will never be affected by this, and I am glad. But for once, if possible, think of that one friend in your circle who might be going through this. If you find it unfair, then please speak against it in whatever and whichever way possible. I hate to bring up the narrative of Hindu-Muslim in any way. But this issue has been affecting me and my family for many years and I had to talk about it.

#gujarat #vadodara #religiousdivide #propertyinvestment

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