Mumbai, As he awaits the verdict of State Minorities Commission (SMC) on his complaint against a south Mumbai housing society, Bollywood star Emraan Hashmi says he know religious profiling is practised by people in more than one community. Emraan has complained he was not allowed to buy a house in the society because he is a Muslim.
“The problem of being denied property on grounds of religion is prevalent all over the country. Now so many Muslims have come forward claiming the same. And mind you, I know religious profiling works both ways.
“I know of Muslim colonies where Hindus are not allowed to stay. I spoke out as a segregated citizen, not a Muslim.I want all discrimination in property allotment to go. Otherwise why do we call ourselves a democracy?” Emraan told IANS.
The actor alleged he was denied permission to buy a house in the upmarket Pali Hill area of Mumbai because he was Muslim. Pali Hill’s Nibbana Cooperative Society, he said, refused to give him a ‘no-objection certificate’. He filed a complaint with the SMC, demanding action against the society members. The society reportedly has mostly Hindus and a couple of Catholic families.
There were more developments in the case Sunday, when a Mumbai resident accused Emraan and film director Mahesh Bhatt of “fomenting communal tensions to gain cheap publicity”. The two had held a press conference to highlight the complaint.
Emraan has been forced to beef up his security.
“He moves around with a lot of securitymen. It’s a precautionary measure. His house is looking like a fortress,” said a source close to the actor.
“The complaint doesn’t deter Emraan at all. It’s an age-old ploy to silence you. No one can accuse Emraan of inciting communal disharmony. Religious discrimination in buying and renting property has been going on a very long time. No one talked about it openly. It’s a sensitive issue.”
Office-bearers of the housing society have been changing their statements repeatedly.
“They said he was kept out because he was serial kisser,” the source said. “For some reason they also made up an absurd allegation that Emraan’s parents barged into the office of the property dealers. Emraan’s parents had taken a proper appointment and gone and they were treated badly. They were told the housing society people were busy.
“Emraan was enraged because his parents were badly treated. Emraan had earlier bought an apartment in 2007 in Pali Hill. But there was no such problem. This was his first real encounter with discrimination.”
Now the man from whom Emraan wanted to buy the house has backed out.
“The prospective property seller now says he doesn’t want to sell. But for Emraan it is no longer about personal hurt. He’s standing up for an issue. People have accused him of doing this to gain publicity. Let them say what they like. Emraan doesn’t care what the cynics say,” said a friend of the actor.
Asked why the actor had received so little support from the film fraternity, the friend said: “He wasn’t expecting any real support. Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi have spoken on it. Also, Saif Ali Khan. Emraan is prepared to take the issue to its logical conclusion. He hopes people will no longer keep quiet about being denied property in spite of being law-abiding citizens and paying taxes.”
The actor is currently busy shooting for Ekta Kapoor’s “Once Upon A Time”.