Fear continues to strike roots in Delhi's Muslim majority Jamia Nagar. Landlords fearful of being linked to the bombings in Delhi are refusing to rent out homes to single men. And students coming back after Eid holidays are finding they have no place to stay in.
Days after the Sep 19 shootout that left two suspected terrorists and a police officer dead with police claiming they have unravelled the conspiracy behind the Sep 13 serial blasts, students living in rented accommodation in and around Jamia Nagar were asked to vacate their rooms by their mostly Muslim landlords.
At the time, they had no option but to go back to their hometowns. But as the students begin to return after Eid, they say they are still desperately trying to seek accommodation in the Okhla area of the capital that includes Jamia Nagar.
“In my three years in Delhi I have never felt so helpless. Nobody is ready to rent out a room to me. I am not a criminal or a terrorist. Then why am I facing this problem?” asked an angry Wamiq Ali Khan, a student pursuing his final year in business administration in the Western International University in Lajpat Nagar. Wamiq is now staying with his relative and has to traverse a huge distance to attend class.
Many others like Wamiq said their careers could be at stake for reasons completely beyond their control or comprehension.
It is not just students who have had to run from pillar to post chasing accommodation. Even young, unmarried professionals face the same problem in Jamia Nagar, which takes its name from the Jamia Milia University nearby.
“A few days after the shootout, my landlord asked me to vacate the room. He had no answers to my repeated pleas on why he wanted me to move out. I am staying with my relative. After the incident of Sep 19, scores of students are facing similar problems," said Ubaid, who graduated from the Jamia Milia and is preparing for his MBA entrance exams. "Nobody is willing to give out rooms to Muslims."
Arshad Alam, a member of Jamia Teachers Solidarity group, said the problem was acute.
“We have received complaints from some students that they have been asked to vacate rooms. This is a serious matter. If this trend continues even after the return of students from holidays, it will hamper their studies.”
"At least 10 landlords have refused to rent out a room. Earlier, it was very difficult to get a room on rent in areas other than Okhla; now, even here people are unwilling to rent their rooms," said Hilal, a journalist.
"My constant pleas and the assurance that I will marry within a few months have not helped."
Shabir Ahmad, a landlord speaks out in his defence: "Nobody wants to run into problems with the police. We do not mind giving out rooms to couples but we are avoiding students and singles. They could lead to unnecessary questioning which we would like to avoid."