The story “Closing the door on Muslims in our cities” (July 8) has brought to light a big social menace that exists in many parts of India. What surprises me the most is that the housing apartheid is at “its worst in New Delhi’s most affluent and educated neighbourhoods.” Contrary to that, the less educated and economically marginalised sections, including villagers, among Hindus are secular and accommodative. Obviously, education has not broadened people’s outlook.
It was the tolerant and magnanimous Hindu society that allowed other religions to flourish in India. It is, therefore, necessary to eradicate bigotry and intolerance. Courses should be introduced at the primary school level to inculcate the values of tolerance and coexistence.
I would like to compliment The Hindu on its painstaking effort to bring the issue out in the open. We have always believed that it is the low socio-economic status of the minorities that is responsible for their ghettoisation. But after reading about the experience of people like Zeenat Shaukat Ali and Ruth Manorama, it is clear that it has more to do with deep-seated prejudices.
Such exclusion will create a deep sense of frustration among the minorities. Frustration is one of the major reasons for youth to indulge in criminal activities. Had politicians followed secular and inclusive policies, this situation would not have arisen. We, the people, should unite to fight the dreaded discrimination against the minorities and Dalits. Better late than never!
Mohammed Yunus Mulla,
Education alone cannot enlighten people. Intolerance of other religions exists in the mind and, in most cases, is the result of what people see their ancestors practising. If you try to reason with such people, they will come out with a typical response: “We don’t have a problem but our neighbours and relatives will not approve.”
Manish Kumar Atri,
The report raises serious doubts about the secular fabric of our nation. We boast of being the largest democracy. True to our claim, all religions have coexisted peacefully for centuries. But, of late, the religious divide is assuming dangerous proportions. We should not turn a blind eye to it.
It is painful to learn of the ordeal a Muslim undergoes in finding a house. One of the main reasons an average Muslim is misunderstood and excluded is the stereotyping of the community. The image of Muslim men as those sporting a huge beard, eating meat and being aggressive, manufactured by the media, evokes understandable fear and suspicion.
That said, Muslims too should ask themselves why they are being perceived thus. They should pursue activities which promote harmony and trust, without compromising their religious and cultural values.
S.A. Thameemul Ansari,
It is not just Muslims or other minorities about whom landlords have reservations. We are Bengali Brahmins who lived in Chennai for a decade. We met with extremely diplomatic refusals when we were looking out for rented houses. The refusals came after subtle queries about our food habits. Frankly, I have no issues with that. If I owned a house and faced the prospect of letting it out on rent to someone whose food habits I was not comfortable with, I just might think twice.
The worst metro is perhaps Kolkata, where people are considered secular and broadminded. When I went to the city in 1973 to join a public sector undertaking, I was shocked to find that my Muslim colleague hailing from Kerala was denied a house at Bollygunge and in other Hindu dominated localities. Initially, the house owners could not identify him as a Muslim because his surname was Koya but when he disclosed his first name, they turned down his request. He had no choice but to take a house in Park Circus which is Muslim dominated.