BHOPAL — Zahida Khan was in for a shock when she decided to buy a flat in a Hindu-majority residential complex on Bhopal's Hoshangabad road. Khan has alleged that the owner flatly refused to sell her the house, a conversation she has on tape, because of her religion. She has decided to approach authorities claiming discrimination.
"It is a good housing society that had all the amenities. When I went to the place, they showed us the flats and the entire campus. It all went on well till we were close to finalising the deal. They asked my name," Khan told HuffPost India. "No sooner did I tell my name, I was told to my face that they did not sell houses to Muslims," she said.
A shocked Khan decided to try again and was told the same thing. Her husband Mazhar Khan is a local businessman.
"Friends and relatives often told us that these things happen in housing societies but now it has happened to us. The experience has shaken me. I really want to fight, raise the issue with authorities because this is going to affect everyone, our future generations," she said.
It all went on well till we were close to finalising the deal. They asked my name. No sooner did I tell my name, I was told to my face that they did not sell houses to Muslims.
Khan has filed a complaint with the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission.
"This is social boycott, keeping Muslims out of new colonies," she alleged.
However, Rajendra Singh,an official of the Meenakshi Planet City, the housing complex, said that although most of the residents in the society are Hindus, there is no religious discrimination.
The official pleaded helplessness when asked why Khan was rejected as a buyer.
"Zahida Khan and her husband had come to buy the house. We have some houses that have already been sold but owners live outside the city and let out houses on rent. She also inquired about getting house on rent in the society and when I spoke to the owner of the house, he refused to give the house to them and naturally I can't force him to give his house if he doesn't want to rent it out to someone," he said.
"But we don't discriminate on religious grounds," he insisted.
Khan, however, said that she and her husband were categorically told that the houses were not given to Muslims in the residential society. She has mentioned this in her formal complaint too, a copy of which is available with HuffPost India. In her complaint, she has mentioned that this is a form of social boycott that amounts to keeping Muslims ghettoed in certain areas of the city.
Don't we have the right to stay in newly developed areas and colonies that have good civic amenities?
"Don't we have the right to stay in newly developed areas and colonies that have good civic amenities? How can private builders do it selectively, targeting entire population," she asked, adding that, "I feel it is a gross violation of our fundamental rights."
"I have recording of the conversation too which proves how Muslims are being denied houses and are being socially boycotted. I hope there will be an inquiry and strong action is taken to ensure that a religious community doesn't face such alienation", she wrote in her complaint.
"I am also going to meet police officials and lodge a complaint," she said. "People face discrimination but they don't complain and I think, it is wrong because we need to fight this".