Mumbai: Was tenant evicted over her religion or due to issues with broker?

While 25-year-old Misbah Quadri has alleged that she was ‘thrown out’ of her home for being a Muslim, a visit to the building where she was a tenant has revealed that Muslims are living in three flats in the Wadala high-rise

A day after Misbah Quadri (25) made headlines with her claim that she was thrown out of a rented flat in Wadala because she is a Muslim, mid-day visited the building and found that there is more to the story than meets the eye.

The building, Sanghvi Heights in Wadala (East), is still not completely ready. Three floors are yet to be added, and hence a society has not been formed yet
The building, Sanghvi Heights in Wadala (East), is still not completely ready. Three floors are yet to be added, and hence a society has not been formed yet

Misbah, who is a media professional, had said that in response to a Facebook post, she was moving into a flat on the 10th floor of Sanghvi Heights in Wadala in April, which was already occupied by two Hindu girls.

Also Read: Mumbai: Woman denied flat for being Muslim, Govt promises action

She claimed that when she approached the broker for an agreement, he asked her to sign a no-objection certificate (NOC) which would absolve him, the builder and the flat owner of any responsibility if she faced any harassment based on her religion.

Misbah Quadri
Misbah Quadri

She refused to sign the document and the broker allegedly threw her out within a week of moving in. She then approached the builder’s representative in the building, who allegedly told her that they do not allow Muslim tenants. The two girls who were already in the flat also allegedly had to vacate it later because they had supported the girl.

What we found
When mid-day visited the building yesterday, however, we found that three flats in the building are occupied by Muslim tenants, none of whom were asked to sign an NOC or faced any kind of discrimination. One of these tenants was allegedly shown his flat by the same broker who was dealing with Misbah.

Also Read: After Hindus, property portals place ads targeting Muslim buyers

The builder claimed that no discrimination takes place in the building and the fact that Muslim tenants occupy other flats there should be sufficient evidence to prove that claim. He also said that things went sour between the broker and Misbah, leading to the issues, and that the building or the builder were not to be blamed.

Sanghvi Heights, which is located in Wadala (East), is still not completely ready and three more floors are yet to be added. Hence, the society has not been formed. The builder’s representative sits on the first floor of the building, in room number 101, which is also the sales office.

mid-day visited a seventh- floor flat, which is occupied by four girls, including a Muslim. One of the flatmates, Shristi Shete, said, “We came here this month. Our flatmate Saima Khan found the flat and she was the one who coordinated everything with the broker. We never faced any discrimination, nor did we have to sign any kind of NOC.”

Another flat on the fifth floor is occupied by a male student, who is also a Muslim. According to the builder’s representative, he was shown the flat by the same broker who was dealing with Misbah. Another flat, on the ninth floor, is occupied by an elderly couple, also Muslims.

Builder speak
Shailesh Sanghvi, director of Sanghvi Group, said, “In our constructions, we do not discriminate. We have Muslim tenants in our buildings. There was something that went wrong between the tenant and the broker. You can go and check our building and you will find that there are Muslims residing in it.”

The builder’s representative in Sanghvi Heights, who identified himself as Rajesh, said, “The girl (Misbah) had come to me with an issue regarding the broker. I tried speaking to the broker, too, who had said that there was some issue related to the documents. No discrimination takes place in the building. We have three flats that are occupied by Muslims.

There is a flat with an elderly couple, a flat in which a Muslim student stays, and one in which a Muslim woman resides with three other flat mates.” “Renting out flats is not the builder’s business. It is done directly by the owner and the broker. So, I don’t know why the woman is claiming that we do not rent out to Muslims,” he added.

‘Others are influential’
When mid-day contacted Misbah, she said, “The broker had asked me to sign an NOC stating that the broker, builder, or owner shouldn’t be blamed if I faced any harassment because of my religion.

However, I refused to sign it. My housemaid had told me that there are Muslims residing in the building, but they were not being harassed and she said she could not understand why I was being singled out.

“I was after the broker to get the agreement signed, and I was thrown out because I refused to sign the NOC. I am told that the other Muslims residing in the building are influential and, hence, aren’t being harassed.” When we asked Misbah whether she had a copy of the NOC, which the broker wanted her to sign, she replied in the negative.

Expert speak
“It is a criminal offence to throw someone out of the house provided their legal documentation is in place. From what I’ve read on the issue, it appears that the broker was exceeding his limits and harassing a woman from a minority community,” said Vinod Sampat, an advocate who deals with housing and cooperative issues.

DCP speak
DCP (Port Zone) Vinay Kumar Chavan said, “Our team visited the spot and found out that three other flats in the same building are occupied by Muslims. We have taken the statement of a female tenant (Saima Khan) and nowhere in her statement does she say that she faced any kind of harassment. We are yet to record the statements of the other two tenants.” - Inputs by Sagar Rajput

Broker speak
The broker, who has been identified as Bansal, said, “My lawyer has asked me not to talk to anyone from the media. I can only say that I do not wish to hurt anyone’s sentiments.”

mid-day says
Any discrimination is unacceptable, be it on the basis on religion, caste or the kind of food one eats. While the city prides itself on its cosmopolitan nature and outlook, the unfortunate truth is that members of various communities like to surround themselves with their “own people”, leading to the exclusion of everyone else and the formation of virtual ghettoes.

The need of the hour, then, is for these artificial walls to be broken down so that every community can benefit from what is good in the other, rather than remaining boxed in. The government can promote this by giving incentives to builders and landlords. In the current case, the police should conduct a thorough but impartial investigation so that the true story is revealed and the city can move on from the unfortunate episode.

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