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Right-Wing Groups Pick On Muslim Family for ‘Land Jihad’ in UP

“100-150 people opposed our entry to the house, not wanting Muslim neighbours,” said Usman Ahmad.

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A Muslim family was not allowed to move into their house in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, which they had recently bought, as Hindus living in the neighbourhood opposed their moving in. Local right-wing groups like the Bajrang Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha accused them of committing ‘land jihad'.

Senior Superintendent of Police Manzil Saini promised to protect the Muslim family if they decide to move in – but are the conditions in Meerut’s Maliwada too hostile for Usman Ahmad and his family to live in their own house?

We travelled to ground zero to find out.

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Nauman Ahmad works as a software engineer in Delhi, but is originally from Meerut. His family lives in Maliwada in Meerut, where they have been living for the last 30 years. He grew up here in a single room accommodation provided by the government-aided Ismail Public School along with his brother, Usman, and three sisters. Nauman’s father works at the school.

His family bought a house in Maliwada, about a kilometre from their old house. They bought the house from Sanjay Rastogi, who runs a telecom business, for Rs 28.30 lakh, of which they took a bank loan of Rs 18 lakh.

Nauman Ahmad bought House No 308 in Maliwada from Sanjay Rastogi.
Nauman Ahmad bought House No 308 in Maliwada from Sanjay Rastogi.
(Photo: Vivek Das/ The Quint)
Nauman’s brother, Usman Ahmad, does not want to attract more controversy.
Nauman’s brother, Usman Ahmad, does not want to attract more controversy.
(Photo: Vivek Das/ The Quint)

Property Deals Between Hindus and Muslims a Regular Affair

I was born and brought up in the very same area and the neighbours have had no issues with me buying this property from a Hindu. In fact, they were happy about it. Such deals take place every now and then without any ruckus.
Imran Ahmad, Resident, Maliwada
Imran Ahmad sits at tailor shop. 
Imran Ahmad sits at tailor shop. 
(Photo: Vivek Das/ The Quint)
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But some other residents feel differently in the communal atmosphere.

Muhammadans moving in here will be a trouble for all. I agree they are well-educated and not uncouth. But it may lead to communal tensions.
Vasu Goswami, Resident, Maliwada
Balraj Dungar, convener of Bajrang Dal, asks his men to stand behind him while he speaks to us on camera.
Balraj Dungar, convener of Bajrang Dal, asks his men to stand behind him while he speaks to us on camera.
(Photo: Vivek Das/ The Quint)

Balraj Dungar said the term ‘land jihad’ is not new, and has been prevalent for a long time now. He said that Muslims buy houses in Hindu localities as a part of a larger conspiracy.

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Usman's family has been promised that they will get the money back by 17 February 2018. Either the previous owner Rastogi will have to return the amount or the neighbours will have to find Hindus to buy the house at the same price.

On their part, police have kept their distance from the ratcheting communal tension.

Usman’s family continue to live in the very same one-room accommodation they were always living in – with the added burden of paying bank EMIs. They might never get to move to their new, rightful house for fear of hostile neighbours and hostile right-wing groups that have descended on their private land dealings.

Camera: Vivek Das
Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim and Purnendu Pritam

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