NGO Director threatens fast-unto-death over locked south Mumbai centre

Updated: 15 September, 2016 07:38 IST | PTI |

The Director of an NGO, whose centre taken on rent from the civic body has been sealed, has threatened to launch an indefinite strike if the premises is not reopened

The Director of an NGO, whose centre taken on rent from the civic body has been sealed, has threatened to launch an indefinite strike if the premises is not reopened.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has sealed a room it had rented to the NGO, Urdu Markaz, to run educational activities. Two months ago, the the civic body locked the centre, located in Bhendi Bazar, South Mumbai, claiming it was conducting "non-educational activities".

The NGO had taken the premsies from BMC in 1999 after following due procedure and was running Urdu as well Marathi, Hindi and English classes for schoolchildren, poets, writers and art connoisseurs.

"In 1999, we got the premises after due procedure and scrutiny and continued our activities to impart knowledge to people from all walks of life. The civic body was also impressed with our work.

"So it came as a shock when we received a notice in 2014 that said our centre was not conducting educational activities. We tried our level best to persuade the civic body, but it seems they were pre-determined to lock our centre," said Zubair Azmi, Director of Urdu Markaz that ran the facility.

The centre was first issued a notice in 2014, then again in 2015 and finally it was shut down in July this year. Azmi said he has garnered support from well-known people from different fraternities for his cause and would resort to a fast-unto-death if the centre is not reopened.

Azmi said the centre had become very popular not just among young Muslim students wishing to learn English but also with others wanting to learn Urdu, Hindi and Marathi.

"Our centre, with the support from literary figures, was promoting and trying to revive cultural ethos prevailing in 1950s and 60s. We were very successful to connect with literary figures," said Azmi.

The civic body has also seized over 2,000 books that the NGO wants it to return. Rais Sheikh, the local Corporator, has taken note of the BMC action and said he will fight till the centre is reopened and handed over to the NGO. When contacted, a senior civic official denied to comment, saying it an old issue.

First Published: 15 September, 2016 07:00 IST

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