Mumbai: At Mumbra's first 'veg' building, hypocrisy served, but not non-vegetarian food

May 19, 2017, 06:00 IST | Faisal Tandel

Residents of Mumbra society put up 'vegetarians-only' board despite several of them being meat-eaters. Critics say it's a move to keep Muslim community out of society

Residents of Shiv Darshan don't want those who follow a non-vegetarian diet to reside here
Residents of Shiv Darshan don't want those who follow a non-vegetarian diet to reside here

This may be the only 'vegetarian' building in all of Mumbra, a Thane suburb where 90% of the population is Muslim. But, the residents probably meant something else entirely when they recently put up a ‘vegetarians-only’ board at the entrance. Ironically, many of the occupants admit to eating meat. Residents of Shiv Darshan, a three-storey building near Shankar Mandir, claim that the vegetarians-only rule has been in place for long.

But, according to one of the owners, Geeta Mule, it was only recently that someone put up a board declaring that only vegetarians would be allowed to buy or rent flats. More to the point, the board was only put up after she tried selling her home to Muslim buyers.

The signboard at the entrance. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
The signboard at the entrance. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

They, too, eat meat
The residents of the building’s 21 apartments are presently all Hindus, but they hail from various parts of the country, and several are non-vegetarian in their diet. In fact, Mule, too, is a meat-eater.

The 37-year-old has been a resident of Flat No. 202 for three years, and lives there with her husband and two kids. Recently, she decided to sell the apartment. "I had bought the 1RK flat for Rs 10 lakh three years ago, and we have been living in the 350 sqm house since. Now that my children are growing up, we have decided to move to a bigger house. I am trying to sell my flat and asking for a price of Rs 13 lakh, but have had trouble finding a buyer because of the vegetarian rule," she said.

"A few days ago, a real estate agent brought two women from the Muslim community to show them my flat. But, the other residents objected to members of the community living here. After that, I allowed only Hindu prospective tenants to see my home. Now, they have put up the board to announce that only vegetarians will be allowed to buy flats here, which is harassment. We live in a neighbourhood where 90% of the population is Muslim. Why make this an issue?" said Mule.

Residents of Shiv Darshan don't want those who eat meat to reside here
Residents of Shiv Darshan don't want those who eat meat to reside here

Whose rule is it anyway?

Mule alleged that the board was put up by resident Mira Gupta, who claims to be the society chairman. However, Gupta denied the allegation and said, "I did not introduce the rule. It has been in place for many years. I have not put up the board either. About residents of the building eating non-vegetarian food, we haven’t gone into their homes to check."

Another resident, Gurunath Patil, however, said that the rule against ‘non-vegetarians’ was merely being used as a euphemism. "I have lived here for 20 years, and am non-veg myself. This is about not selling flats to members of a certain community," he said.

When mid-day tracked down the original owner of the plot, Bhola Patil, he refuted the claim of this being a ‘vegetarian-residents-only’ building since the start.

Bhola Patil, the original owner of the plot, says the rule is not his
Bhola Patil, the original owner of the plot, says the rule is not his

What about the restaurant?

While Patil is vegetarian, he admitted that he had leased one of his ground-floor shops to a non-vegetarian Chinese restaurant. "If I was the one to put up the board, why would I give my shop on rent to a Chinese restaurant? The residents had opposed the coming up of the restaurant too," he said.

Patil lives in one of the apartments in the same building. "I sold my plot to the builder in 1989. The building has a society, and I am not responsible for the rules imposed by it," said Patil, who is also vice-president of the Congress party in Thane.

A senior officer from Thane Municipal Corporation, said, "We have not received any complaint in the matter."

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