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Terror gets local support, so no houses for Muslims: Surat real estate agents

Claiming terror strikes like in Mumbai cannot take place without local support or contacts, Surat real estate agents and brokers have decided not to rent or sell houses to Muslims.

Claiming terror strikes like in Mumbai cannot take place without local support or contacts, Surat real estate agents and brokers have decided not to rent or sell houses to Muslims.

This decision was taken at a meeting last Sunday which was attended by some 300 real estate agents, many of whom responded to SMS invites. They initiated moves to form an association, hoping to complete the process before the month ends.

The Mumbai attacks prompted this meeting in Surat which was rocked by the discovery of bombs across the city after the July 26 serial blasts in Ahmedabad. After the bombs were discovered, activists of Hindu hardline groups had forced Muslims to vacate shops in the Varachha area of Surat — in Ahmedabad and Vadodara, Muslims find it very difficult to rent or buy houses and this has been their experience ever since the 2002 riots.

Defending their move not to do business with Muslims in Surat, New Adajan Rander Road real estate agent Amit Tailor said: “We do business for a fixed rate. I have contacts with 150 estate brokers and we are all inter-linked. We cannot rule out the possibility of local support for terror attacks. Several local people were involved in the blasts in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jaipur, even the planting of bombs in Surat. We are not saying that all Muslims are terrorists. There are some shops in our area which have been rented out by Muslims. We want to control the percentage.”

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Naresh Patel, also an Adajan estate agent, said: “We will convince owners who have rented shops to Muslims to get them vacated. If they don’t do it, they will be responsible if anything happens. We want to control the percentage of Muslims with properties and shops in our areas. All real estate agents and brokers are with us, they have all taken an oath not do business with Muslims.”

Praveen Bhalara of Varachha said: “We found that one Tanveer Pathan was arrested by Surat police in connection with the planting of bombs in Varachha. Tanveer used to work in an AC shop in Varachha and was familiar with the area. So we decided that shops should not be sold or given on rent to Muslims as they pose a threat. We don’t want to take a chance. We have even told groups in Varachha not to give jobs to Muslims youths.”

When his comments were sought, Surat Mayor Ranjit Gilitwala, who is also the BJP MLA from Surat East, said though he was not aware of any such decision by real estate agents, he could do very little about it at an official level. For the sake of communal harmony in the city, Gilitwala said, he would call real estate agents and speak to them.

First published on: 11-12-2008 at 02:36 IST
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