Vadodara: Residents oppose allotment of flat to Muslim woman under govt scheme

Residents claim houses cannot be allotted to minorities because the locality of Hindu inhabitants falls under Disturbed Areas Act

Representative image
Representative image Representative image

Several residents of a housing complex built by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) under a Gujarat government scheme have been staging protests against the allotment of a flat to a Muslim woman, saying the locality is meant only for Hindus. Demanding cancellation of the flat allotment, the residents warned of intensifying their agitation and taking up the matter to the state government and the Centre.

The woman beneficiary said though she was allotted the house six years ago, she could not move in owing to opposition by other residents.

Residents claim that houses cannot be allotted to members of minority communities because the Harni area, where the complex is located, is a locality of Hindu inhabitants and falls under the Disturbed Areas Act, which bans the sale of property by members of one religious community to those from another community without prior approval of the district collector in 'disturbed areas'.

Vadodara municipal commissioner Dilip Rana said he has received a representation from residents of Motnath Residency in Harni, and an appropriate decision will be taken after studying all relevant documents.

"I have just received a representation from the residents. I will check all the documents and then make an appropriate decision. We have a provision, under which Hindus and Muslims are given flats in their respective areas. This applies only to those housing projects which are situated in disturbed areas. We have to check if this society falls in that category," he said.

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Motnath Residency, which has nearly 460 flats, is the VMC's housing project for low-income group families under the state government's Mukhyamantri Awas Yojana. Residents have been staging protests and writing letters to different authorities after a Muslim woman, who currently lives in another area, was allotted a house in 2018.

"Though I was allotted the house in 2018, I could not move in because of the opposition by other residents. Even today, there is no solution in sight. I currently live in another place with my son," the woman said.

Demanding cancellation of her allotment, over 50 residents of Motnath Residency staged a protest near the society's main gate on Friday too. "Despite the fact that the entire area falls under the Disturbed Areas Act, one flat in this society, with 12 towers, has been allocated to a Muslim woman. We don't know how this allotment was made. We all purchased flats in this society thinking that we would be able to live peacefully because of that law," Jitendra Parmar, one of the agitating residents, said.

"We are not against anyone. We just want her to be allotted a house in her area so that everyone can live peacefully. Despite our protest, her flat was not transferred to another scheme by the VMC. If the allotment is not cancelled, we will intensify our stir and stage protests in Gandhinagar and Delhi," Parmar said.

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Another agitating resident said they are determined to stage protests in Gandhinagar and Delhi if the issue is not resolved. "This is a Hindu area and there is a provision which says that minorities should not be allotted flats in Hindu areas. However, since a flat has been allotted to a person from a minority community, other residents have been protesting for the last several years and gave a memorandum to the authorities in the past too. However, the VMC is not cancelling the allotment," said the resident, who did not wish to be identified.

"VMC had earlier announced that minorities would be allotted houses in their areas like Tandalja and Akota. If our demand is not met, we will stage protests outside offices and residences of corporators, MLAs and MPs. We will gherao chief minister Bhupendra Patel in Gandhinagar if the issue is not resolved," he said.

The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and the Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act 1991, commonly referred to as the Disturbed Areas Act, is aimed at preventing distress sale of properties in communally-sensitive areas.

Under this Act, permission of the district collector is mandatory for the sale or transfer of property in the areas notified as 'disturbed' to ensure that the sale was not out of any distress or compulsion, and to see that the seller had received a fair price.

This Act is currently in force in parts of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Khambhat, Bharuch, Kapadvanj, Anand and Godhra towns.

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