No home for Muslims on rent in Mumbai

Mumbai: Over last few years, the issue of housing discrimination in Indian metropolises has firmly established itself at the forefront of political and social debate. Through sociological analysis, it has become clear that housing discrimination works as a mechanism of social segregation and exclusion.

Housing discrimination is one aspect of a number of private discriminatory practices relating to employment, accommodation, and access to public goods, which by all accounts, continue to flourish in India.

A Muslim native of Ratnagiri, a district in Maharashtra, was denied rented accommodation on the basis of her religion. “We grew up celebrating all festivals together with equal fervour. I would go for Ganesh pooja at my friend’s place and wait for the modak. They would come to my house on Eid to eat sheerkurma and biryani. Religion never separated us from playing hide & seek in a temple or bunking college classes together,” the girl said.

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“After the COVID-19 lockdown, rentals came down crashing as many tenants started vacating houses. Some lost their job, some were told to work from home so they temporarily shifted back to their native places leading to several vacant houses. I was still looking for houses and saw this as a good opportunity. But this time I started telling the brokers beforehand about my religion so that they show me only those houses where Muslims are allowed and I don’t face any more humiliation. But then, they started taking me to Muslim dominated localities and showed me houses that weren’t appealing at all,” she added.

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Bandra, Khar and Santacruz are the concentrated areas of housing discrimination in Mumbai. About 60 percent of the rental housing societies in suburbs do not permit Muslims to live in.

Regions in Hyderabad, a city in Telangana, too are included in the category of religious bigotry. Complaints have been received from Saidabad, Balapur, Begumpet, Panjagutta, Banjara Hills and Vijay Nagar.

Housing discrimination, therefore, is one of the significant civil rights issues of our time and as a civil rights issue, it deserves attention by the legislature and the courts.

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