For over a month now, Fakir Mohamed has been house-hunting in Bandra (W), but he is unable to buy a flat when he likes one. “I never thought that my own city, Mumbai, and especially Bandra, which I call the most cosmopolitan area in the city, would shut its doors on me.”
For a Muslim, finding a home outside a Muslim ghetto is a real problem in the city. Seven years ago, Zafar Sareshwala, a businessman from Ahmedabad who had settled in England after the 2002 riots, moved to the city and underwent a similar experience. “I must have seen more than a dozen flats and everywhere I was told that they were not for Muslims,” says he.
A veteran broker who took TOI reporters around a 2-BHK sea-facing flat in Pali Naka, Bandra, says he no longer takes prospective buyers to societies which might discriminate against Muslims.
“They take potential clients to areas that have been unofficially earmarked for Muslims,” says Rizvi. “Millat Nagar near Lokhandwala, pockets in Bandra (west), Jogeshwari, [and outside the city] Mira Road, Kalyan, Mumbra and Bhiwandi have come up as Muslim areas.”
Now, rental advertisements seeking tenants read like those put up in matrimonial columns.
“Everything is mentioned, including caste, creed, skin colour, work timings and marital status,” says Rizvi. “It is as if you are not looking for a tenant but a life partner.”
It did not surprise Rizvi when a broker put up an advertisement saying ‘No Muslims’ on a property website. Though the advertisement was withdrawn after public protests and the website apologized for allowing it to be uploaded, the reality has not changed.