Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment: Shopkeeper moves HC, says Bohras getting prime spots

A shopkeeper claims he has been allotted a shop on the second floor of a new building, though his existing shop is on the ground floor, as he is not from the community

The much talked about Bhendi Bazaar upliftment project, to be carried out by Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT), has run into a controversy with a leather shop merchant approaching the Bombay High Court, claiming that only Bohras are being given prime allotments in it.

Ali Karim, one of the shop owners, claims he is ready to take a smaller place, but wants it on ground floor. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Ali Karim, one of the shop owners, claims he is ready to take a smaller place, but wants it on ground floor. Pic/Bipin Kokate

77-year-old Gulam Hussain Abdul Aziz Karim, who has a 138-sq ft leather shop on the ground floor at Gujjar Lane in Bhendi Bazaar, claimed that he has been allotted a shop on the second floor of the new building, as he does not belong to the Bohra community.

Karim and his son Ali Karim run the 103-year-old shop M/s Karim Esmail which deals in leather and leather products.

Senior counsel Madhav Jamdar, who argued for the family in court told Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, that Karim was not given any clear instructions by SBUT about where and how exactly his shop could be. He feared that as he is not a Bohra, he was likely to be given a shop in an area of the project that could not catch the eye of the customers.

“Religion or caste should not be brought in such matters. A choice should be agreed upon by both parties,” said Justice Dharmadhikari while hearing the matter.

S U Kamdar senior counsel appearing for the SBUT, however denied the claim made by Karim family and said that allegations are completely false. “We are giving 20 to 30 per cent more area to the people who are shifted from the ground floor to the first or the second floor, and technicalities are still being worked on.”

Advocate Aslam Shaikh who helped the family file the petition claimed that they demanded to see the plan and filed an RTI query with MHADA, which asked SBUT to give them the plan but they have not got a copy of it.

“We want a shop on the ground floor as my business is of leather, and bringing heavy sheets of leather to the first and second floor could be very difficult. A lot of people sold their shops as they got a good price, but we're not interested in selling, and want to do business. I am even ready to take a smaller shop but want it on the ground floor,” said Ali.

The bench has asked MHADA and SBUT to submit the plan of the allotments by next week.

The project
The project will work on around 16.5 acres of land; 250 existing buildings could be redeveloped, 1,250 shops will be redeveloped, bringing change to 20,000 people residing or working there.

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