Muslim family accused of ‘land jihad’ in Meerut, forced to give up house after Right wing groups protest

A Muslim family in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut district was denied entry into a house that they had bought from a Hindu man and were accused of committing ‘land jihad’. The incident happened around 8 pm on Sunday when the family reached the new home to take possession of the house.

Usman Ahmad, whose elder brother Nauman purchased the property said, “When we reached the house, some people came and said that the house cannot be sold because Rastogi owed them money. While he was explaining that he was in the process of paying debts and that the property had nothing to do with that, some others reached the house and started sloganeering. They said that a Muslim family cannot be given the property”.

Early this month, Usman’s family bought a section of a two-storey building in the Maliwada area from Sanjay Rastogi, who runs a telecom business for Rs 28.30 lakhs. The deal was finalised in January, but Nauman Ahmad paid the last installment only on December 8, and went to claim his property a few days later.

Soon after, a simple property ownership transfer turned into battleground for pro-Hindutva groups launching a volley of allegations.

The protest was led by members of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Deepak Sharma, general secretary of the BJYM told The Indian Express. “Their culture, thoughts and way of life are different from ours. It starts with one house and slowly, the whole area will become Muslim-dominated. We cannot allow this to happen.”

After police intervention, a document stating that by February 17, 2018, the amount paid by Usman’s family will be returned by Rastogi and a compromise on the matter will be reached.

Usman who is a software engineer like Nauman says that the property costed them around Rs 33 lakh including property registeration charges, lawyer fees, bank loan paperwork etc. and if they get the amount including overall expenditure then they will return the property.

Land Jihad

The term ‘land jihad’ is a conspiracy theory akin to ‘love jihad’ which has been floated in Meerut recently by right-wing groups as part of their campaign against alleged appropriation of land by Muslims to “takeover” Hindu-dominated areas.

Some residents of Maliwada, however, claim that a “conspiracy” was at play. Others claimed that they cannot live next to Muslim neighbours.

Usman Ahmad refuting the claims said, “We wanted a house of our own…My father who works in government school and does duty at night, so we wanted to buy a house close to the school. Hence, we purchased that property. But some people made it an issue and said that we were doing land jihad.”

Balraj Doongar, the western Uttar Pradesh convener of the Bajrang Dal in an statement after the incident as reported by TOI said, “There is a sinister strategy by members of the minority community to buy a house in a Hindu-dominated locality. Over time, due to their activities, their Hindu neighbours are compelled to sell their houses to other minority families and move away. In this way the entire neighbourhood becomes dominated by that community and there is exodus of Hindus. All this comes under land jihad. We will now campaign more aggressively against this.”