Gujarat: Bharuch residents to organise ‘Maha Aarti’ to create awareness about Disturbed Areas Act, call upon Hindus to unite

Residents of Soni Faliya in Bharuch to organise 'Maha Aarti' to create awareness about Disturbed Areas Act

Residents of Hathikhana Bazaar in Bharuch have organised a ‘Maha Aarti’ on Thursday, December 9, 2021 to create awareness amongst the people about Disturbed Areas Act and how it is being circumvented by some people. Members of Hindu Jagran Manch have been fighting a legal battle with authorities over alleged exploitation of loopholes in Disturbed Areas Act and subsequent demography change in Soni Faliya area of Bharuch.

Hindu Jagran Manch has also submitted a memorandum to the Bharuch District Collector on Tuesday, 7th December appealing the administration to take strict action against those who have been violating the provisions of Disturbed Areas Act. The memorandum, a copy of which is accessed by OpIndia, states that in old Bharuch area, the Disturbed Areas Act is not being implemented properly and property has been transferred without having taken prior permission of Collector.

District Administration, to maintain communal harmony and peace, could declare certain areas as ‘Disturbed Areas’ which are susceptible to demography change. The transfer of immovable property in these areas would require an elaborate procedure. The seller, in the application, must mention that the seller is selling the property by their own free will.

OpIndia had earlier reported how the Hindus in the Soni Faliya locality had put their homes and temples up for sale to protest against the violations of Disturbed Areas Act as well as demography change. In the memorandum submitted to Collector on Tuesday, the residents have alleged that despite repeated appeals by the residents, the administration has not taken action against the violations of Disturbed Areas Act. “Because of this, the residents of Soni Faliya have put up ‘for sale’ boards outside their properties. Even then the administration has kept a stoic silence,” the memo states.

Giving details of the properties sold which are in alleged violations of the Disturbed Areas Act, the memorandum list down various properties without following the provisions of the law. One house owned by Devyani Bhupendra Tailor was sold to one Nafisa Shabbir Matarwala without speaking to the neighbours of the property as specified in the Disturbed Areas Act. As per the Act, neighbours of the property which is to be transferred as well as other people who may be affected by the demography change in the area need to be informed and consent must be obtained.

Similar has been the case of sale of property between Arunaben Ganesh Soni and Sigamwala. In other instances where properties were sold by Prakash Sardar Soni to Kapadia Tasleem, Jayshreeben Rameshchandra Itwala to Nilofar Khatun Munawar Khan Pathan, Dineshbhai Ambalal Patanwadia to Diwan Mehmood Karimkhan, Sureshchandra Tribhovandas Jadav and Mahendra Tribhovandas Jadav to Abdul Latif Abdul Rahim Sheikh and Chitraben Ishwarlal Almola to Mansuri Julekha Mohammad Rafiq, the provisions of Disturbed Areas Act were not followed, the memorandum states.

“As per section 3 (2) of Disturbed Areas Act, there is increased polarisation by one community and there is threat of further polarisation. Because of which, the other communities in the area are being pushed into minority community and this may change the demography. Certain members of one community are spreading fear and more such cases can come up. For example, a member of Muslim community has objected to aarti in a temple in the locality. An FIR has also been registered in ‘A’ division police station in this regard,” the memorandum reads.

The memorandum also talks about the recent threats the residents of Soni Faliya are receiving allegedly by Muslim goons from outside of the country, trying to arm twist them into selling their homes. An FIR in this regard has also been registered. “In places like Soni Faliya and other places, Hindus are being polarised and there has been demography change in these areas. If the administration continues to turn a blind eye on these matters of violation of Disturbed Areas Act, we shall be forced to hold protest programmes in this regard,” it states.

‘Hindu temple for sale’ signs come up in Soni Faliya, Bharuch

In October this year, OpIndia had reported that while the Disturbed Areas Act had been implemented in parts of Bharuch, some people have been exploiting loopholes as well as taking advantage of coronavirus pandemic related lockdown to transfer properties without following due procedure mentioned in the Act. This has led to demographic change in certain areas. The sources in the know of the matter, however, say that when the residents protested against such taking over of property by exploiting loopholes, police and administration instead threatened to file case against them accusing them of disturbing peace.

In a letter written to the administration, residents of Soni Faliya alleging illegal transfer of property to Muslim owners, said that the demography of the area is changing and it has turned into a Muslim dominated area. “If this happens, they could slaughter animals in public places which could be disturbing for Hindus, especially women and children, who are predominantly vegetarian. Similarly it may also cause hindrance to celebration of Hindu festivals. They have already stopped playing of religious songs at Jalaram Bapa temple and Shiva temple in the locality,” the residents say in a note to the Chief Minister of Gujarat written on 2nd September, 2020.

However, alleging inaction by the administration, the residents have now written to District Collector again and will also be holding a ‘Maha Aarti’ to educate the residents about the Disturbed Areas Act.

What is Disturbed Areas Act?

Disturbed Areas Act is often wrongly interpreted that it applicable where at least one party between buyer and seller are either Hindus or Muslims. The thing is, any such transactions in such areas would require to follow due process. This is to preserve the religious and community value and identity of the areas which are susceptible to demographic change.

A Collector would carry out formal inquiry after any such application is made and police and district magistrate have to carry out the inquiry. In such cases, the authorities have to physically go to the property and take information that is publicly available and even take written approval from people affected. This includes those who live nearby that particular property as well. Only once the procedure is followed and Collector is satisfied will he approve the transfer of property.

Essentially, the Collector is the peacekeeper of the district and it is his/her responsibility that the communal harmony is maintained. To make sure things don’t escalate and communal riots do not break out, the Collector has the responsibility of keeping peace. Through this Act, the government is trying to keep a check on the polarisation of communities in sensitive parts of the state.

Nirwa Mehta: Politically incorrect. Author, Flawed But Fabulous.