Gujarat: As Vadodara society residents protest, owner cancels plan to sell property to Muslim buyer

Residents protest at Samarpan Housing Society. (Express photo: Bhupendra Rana)

An owner of a residential property in Vasna area of the city was forced to withdraw plan to sell his house to a Muslim after members of the co-operative society objected to it, on the ground that it would lead to a drop in property prices in the area.

The members of Samarpan Society raised objections on the basis that the provisions of the Disturbed Areas Act does not permit the sale of a property to a Muslim in a Hindu-dominated area and vice versa until each immediate neighbour of such property consents to the deal. Police were present in the area to ensure law and order.

The society at present has 170 houses of which two were sold to Muslims in 2017 and another house was leased out for 99 years to another Muslim.

Samarpan Society (City survey no. 522 to 527, 680 to 712) under the jurisdiction of the JP Road police station was declared as ‘Disturbed Area’ in 2014. According to it, all transfer of immovable properties in the society needs a No-Objection Certification from the society’s president and a sanction from the Collector under the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Properties and provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991.

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The protests began when Mahesh Palani, owner of the residential bungalow in the society, submitted an application for police verification for the sale of his property to a person from the minority community. The members of the society objected to even showing the properties to members of the minority community. On Sunday, Palani cancelled the proceedings from the verification stage.

“The buyer had come through a very close friend. Since the reference person is very reliable, I did not mind showing him the property. The party was also willing to pay adequately. I had told him that the sale might not come through because of the Disturbed Areas Act. I submitted an application in the police station for verification to proceed further but I will withdraw it today,” Palani said. He also said that all the brokers he had contacted to sell the property were strictly briefed to not entertain any person from the minority community.

Confirming the development, SS Jasani, sub-inspector, JP Road police station, said, “We received the application two days ago and before we could proceed with the verification, the application was withdrawn by the owner. We were present at the society in the morning also to look into any law and order situation.”

The members have raised concerns that sale of properties to members of the minority community eventually leads to the devaluation of the area in terms of real estate prices and members of the Hindu community tend to migrate. General Secretary of the society, Bikramjeet Singh, said, “When the properties are sold to members from the minority community, the latter tend to first buy it at a high price and then resale it at a lower price. Even if around 10 houses are resold at such lower prices, property rates begin to drop. We have observed that when the number of occupants from minority communities increase in the society, members of the Hindu community tend to move out. We do not have an issue with any person or any community. Our major concern is that there is a reason why certain areas fall under Disturbed Areas and any violation of the rules lead to declining property rates, which affect the entire society.”

The society at present has 170 houses of which two were sold to members of the minority community in 2017 and another house was leased out for 99 years. “It came to our notice only after the sale of the houses. Since then, every six months, we keep sending our objections to such sales to the Commissioner of Police and Collector. Between 2017 and now, around two-three people tried to sell their properties to members from the minority community. We raised objections the sale deeds got cancelled,” Singh added. At present, around eight houses are up for sale and the society members have given warnings to the owners to not proceed with any sale that is in violation of the Disturbed Areas Act.

In September this year, similar protests in Kesarbaug Society in the same area led to the cancellation of the sale of a property worth Rs 6 crore. Special Secretary Revenue Department (SSRD) of the Gujarat government stayed the permission granted by the Vadodara District Collector for the sake of a bungalow by businesswoman Geeta Goradia to businessman and educationist Faizal Faslani after residents of the locality protested saying that the property was sold in contravention of the Disturbed Areas Act.

However, in October, the Gujarat HC stayed the SSRD order after a petition filed by Fazlani who sought the court’s intervention in declaring the representations of the residents objecting to the sale ‘unlawful’ as they are “not maintainable, being in contravention against the provisions of the Disturbed Areas Act as well as settled legal provisions and proportions of the law”.

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