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Minister sees Kairana, man says society wants him out for being Dalit

The members of the posh Shri Dahyabhai Park Society, located in Ahmedabad’s Shah-e-Alam area, however, claim that the owner, Manu Dabhi, is just a front and that his Muslim employer is using him to get a toe-hold in the society.

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AN EMPLOYEE of a Muslim builder whose ownership of a plot in a Hindu residential society here has seen protests, including by the VHP, has said that the real reason his neighbours want him out is that he is a Dalit.

The members of the posh Shri Dahyabhai Park Society, located in Ahmedabad’s Shah-e-Alam area, however, claim that the owner, Manu Dabhi, is just a front and that his Muslim employer is using him to get a toe-hold in the society.

On June 22, the residents had clashed with men of the employer, builder Sharif Khan Pathan, leaving two injured. Following this, the VHP extended support to the residents while Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel, citing the Disturbed Areas Act of Gujarat, warned, “We will not allow a Kairana-like forced eviction of Hindus in Ahmedabad or anywhere in Gujarat.”

The 1991 Disturbed Areas Act, applicable in communally sensitive areas of Gujarat such as Shah-e-Alam, forbids transfer of immovable properties between Hindus and Muslims without the collector’s permission.

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The society has demanded an undertaking from Dabhi that he would never hand over the title of his plot to any Muslim. In his reply to court, Dabhi has refused to do so, saying the society has no right to demand this.

While Dabhi could not be contacted, Pathan told The Sunday Express that Dabhi would be returning the plot, and that an agreement (“banakhat”) bearing Dabhi’s name had been made in favour of the society to enable it to sell the land to anyone it wished. Pathan also claimed that a reply had been filed in court accordingly.
The secretary of the society, Prakash Shah, who has been spearheading the protests, said Pathan had orally informed them about such an agreement, but that in the court, their reply was different.

Dabhi, who works with the Nawab Group of builders run by Pathan, owns a 170-sq m plot in the society, which he bought from a Vishal Mehta in 2010. Mehta, a resident of Satellite area, confirmed the sale, adding that since Dabhi is a Hindu, the Disturbed Areas Act did not apply to the transaction.

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The residents of the society say they learnt of the deal only in August 2015, when labourers came to demolish the house built on the plot. Shah obtained documents of the land deal from the registry office and found Mehta had sold it to Dabhi for Rs 18 lakh.

A month later, Shah went to court, claiming that the actual owner was builder Pathan and challenging the deal as illegal on grounds of the Disturbed Areas Act.

Dahyabhai Society has 64 houses, built in the early 1960s. On one side lies a Hindu neighbourhood and on the other, a Muslim one, but the population around the society has both Hindus and Muslims.

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In his reply before the Board of Nominees Court, filed on July 5, Dabhi said, “…because I am from a backward class the society was trying not to sell this plot to me. The society has no authority, right to claim anything”.

Pathan also says that the reason for Dahyabhai Society’s opposition to Dabhi is that he is a Dalit. “The society members are against Dalits and Adivasis settling there. They wrongly communalised it by dragging me into this controversy,” he said. “In fact, I had suggested to Dabhi to move to a Hindu locality since his was the only Hindu family living in Bhilwas, a Muslim-dominated society. He got a deal at Dahyabhai Park Society in 2010,” Pathan added. Pathan claimed he gave Rs 5 lakh to Dabhi, to help him buy the plot. “Dabhi’s family has a good rapport with my family as his father too worked with us.”

Showing the stitches on his son’s head from the June 22 night violence, Shah asserted, “The builder (Pathan) wants to chase us away because of his schemes to develop this society, which will be only for Muslims. But we won’t let that happen. We will not leave the society, neither will we allow any Muslim to settle here. This is against the law.”

Another plot bought by Pathan adjacent to the society has also been challenged in court on grounds of the Disturbed Areas Act. Construction is on here. Pathan said the disturbed areas clause didn’t apply to that plot.

Dabhi, who is in his late 40s, lives in a one-room house at Bhilwas, Anadipura, 2 km from the Dahyabhai Society. A narrow lane, off the Shah-e-Alam darwaza, goes to his house.

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His wife Neeluben and elder daughter Rani said Dabhi was not at home. They also claimed they had no idea if he had purchased any land. “We came to know only after the newspaper wrote about a dispute naming Manubhai,” they said.

“We have been living here since we got married about 20 years ago. Over the years, during the riots, including 2002, all other Hindu families left this place.

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There used to be around hundred Hindu families. We didn’t leave since we don’t have any issues here and share a cordial relationship with our Muslim neighbours. We also celebrate festivals together,” said Neeluben.

First published on: 17-07-2016 at 04:24:48 am
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