AROUND 52 societies in Vadodara’s Nizampura, led by former BJP mayor of the city Bharat Shah, on Monday threatened to boycott the upcoming Lok Sabha elections if a purported plan by a builder to construct a colony for about 800 Muslim families is not withdrawn.
The residents displayed banners in front of their gates to boycott the upcoming general elections and submitted memorandums to the district Collector, making their demands known. The boards read, “Boycott Election! The conspiracy of setting up a colony for more than 800 people from a certain minority community needs to be stalled. For the upcoming elections no political leader from any party can come to our societies”.
Walking up to the Collector’s office, the residents of these societies held banners which read, “Jago Hindu Jago, Save Hindu-dominated areas. Save the exodus of Hindus from more than 40 societies in Nizampura. Stop the construction of houses for more than 800 people from a certain minority community. ‘Sabka saath sabka bachav’.”
The opposition is similar to the 2015 objection raised by Hindu residents of Sayajipura area of the city against the allotment of affordable housing scheme flats to displaced Muslim residents from Kalyan Nagar slums. Bharat Shah, who was then the mayor of the city, had unceremoniously withdrawn the Vadodara Municipal Corporation housing plan, leaving nearly 450 families homeless.
The members of the societies led by Shah submitted a memorandum to the collector in this regard, signed by more than 500 residents. The residents have alleged that a plot of land in Nizampura, which was a pastoral land was given to a builder two years ago who is now allegedly trying to transfer the society under construction to a member of the minority community. Following this, residents have raised concerns that since the area lies under the Disturbed Areas Act the majority community will eventually be driven out from here.
“This land in question was gauchar (pastoral) land. To promote jobs, it was sanctioned to set up a factory here. But that project never materialised and it remained vacant,” Shah said. “Two years ago, this land was given to a builder to build a complex. This area lies under the Disturbed Areas Act which means that a person will have to take permission from the Collector before selling the property.”
He added: “This particular land has the minority community living nearby as well, and if the complex is inhabited by them then we would slowly be moved out of the area. That is why seek assurance from the administration that no such exodus happens.”
Shah said they had been submitting submitting such memorandums for the past two years but to no effect. “All documents regarding the case have also been submitted to the Collector” he added.
The memorandum submitted alleges the builder is on the verge of transferring the documents in the name of a person from the minority community. “Following this, all construction by the Muslim community member will eventually go to members of his community in the future, and abiding by the rules of the Disturbed Areas Act, they will sell it to people from their own community.” The memorandum said this was a conspiracy by the Muslims to set up a community of their own. “Thus they will succeed in their conspiracy of setting up a society of their own,” it said. “We request you (the Collector) to ensure that because of any such circumstance, no violations of any rules occur and the Hindu community is not affected.”
The memorandum also stated that years ago the land was being used as a crematorium by Dalits. “A part of the land is still being used as a crematorium by the Dalit community after a resolution was passed in 1979 by the Vadodara Corporation. However following the construction of this building, the builders have even tried to break the boundaries of the crematorium, developing an unfriendly atmosphere,” the memorandum said.
An enquiry into the matter has now been initiated by Sub-Divisional Magistrate Mahipalsinh Chudasama. “I received the representation today and have forwarded the matter for further enquiry into the matter,” said Chudasama. “We visited the spot today and as per our preliminary enquiry, the builder had taken permission from the Corporation before starting the construction. The construction, however, has just started, and only the foundation has been laid. The builder has also not yet sold the land or ownership of the society to anyone else. We are enquiring and investigating further, based on the application we have received.”