Many believe that a quota for Muslims in government housing projects may isolate the community.
“In the last 20 years, Muslims have been separated from regular society because a small minority has done certain things which allowed them to be classified as terrorists. This allowed others to generalise and label the entire community. A housing quota will only isolate the community more,” said Zeenat Shaukat Ali, a professor of Islamic studies at St Xavier’s College. Instead of creating quotas, she added, politicians should create a platform for different communities to come together and understand each other.
“A compulsion of any kind does not work. It’s a way of attempting to please vote banks — in this case, Muslims,” said actor Aamir Ali, who in 2007 filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court alleging discrimination after a Lokhandwala Complex housing society refused to sell him a flat allegedly because he is Muslim. “Reservations in jobs, education and housing should go without bias only to those who are most deserving.”
The court asked Ali to approach the state government with his grievance.
“The whole business of creating quotas for minorities is political,” said B.V. Bhosale, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Mumbai. “The Muslim community will benefit if this happens, but the state will have to make a budget allocation and look at income levels before giving houses away.”
M. Ishaque (40), a Vikhroli resident, said a housing quota was not something the community demanded but it was welcome nonetheless. “If private housing societies have reservations against certain communities, that is their prerogative. But when it comes to government housing, it is important for everyone to have equal opportunity,” he said.