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Closing Doors

After a young woman was denied an apartment for being a Muslim in Mumbai, City Express finds out that instances such as these are rampant in the city too. And, the problem is beyond religion

Published: 29th May 2015 06:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th May 2015 06:04 AM   |  A+A-

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HYDERABAD: Foodies’ paradise, art and history lovers destination –  Hyderabad is known for its tehzeeb and friendly people, where everyone welcomes everyone, right? It would do you good if you didn’t mention this to Ghazala Syed who has not been able to find a rented apartment at the locations of her choice around Hitec City. Reason? She is a Muslim.

“I have been trying to find a house in Nizampet, Madhapur and Gachibowli areas for the last one year. Eight out of seven times when the owner was a Hindu, we were politely told that they wanted ‘only’ Hindu tenants,” she says. She also recalls how once an owner hung up on her abruptly before rebuking her for not telling that she is a ‘Mohammedan’ at the outset of the conversation.

But if you thought it is only Muslims who are at the receiving end of such bigotry, you are mistaken. There are housing societies exclusively for Jains, several Hindus want ‘only Hindu vegetarian’ tenants and Muslims too do not favour renting out their properties to Hindus, Christians or even Muslim expatriates.

Layeekuddin, who stays in Mehdipatnam near a women’s college, says he prefers renting out the first floor of his house only to a family. “I have a problem with alcohol, pork, bachelors, single women and those from north east. Iske alawa koi bhi chalega,” states the 60-year-old.

While most owners prefer leasing their property to families – How many people are there in your family?, Oh! you have children? How old are they? – are some of the questions posed to tenants of this category.

Rachna Sharma an IT professional had a bitter war of words with her landlord because she had not clarified that of the five members in her household, two were three and six-year-olds. “I had to move out of the house in three months because the owner did not want tenants who had young children. After that bad experience, I have always made a point to clarify that I have two young children,” she shares.

While the Nawabi city is slowly inching towards learning the ways of a cosmopolitan – declining rental apartments  to people not just on the grounds of religion, region, number of members, etc., is becoming a trend.

Fair enough, their property, their choice. But does owning a pet disqualify a family from living in a house?

P Saraswati, an entrepreneur, was allowed to live in an apartment in RK Puram only on the condition that her pet  would have a dog muzzle when it was out of the house and it did not use the lift. “Though the owner had no issues, the housing society created a ruckus. They held a couple of meetings to discuss if a dog owner should be allowed to live in the building,” Saraswati recalls adding that her family was ill-treated only because they had a pet.

While ghettoism is a sad truth, not every neighbourhood is exclusionary and not every house owner discriminatory.

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