Hyderabad: Hyderabad is changing and not always for the better. In Nallakunta, in the heart of the city, owners in housing societies dominated by Gouds refused to rent out to those of other castes, and of other religions.
Such housing societies state that they have their own laws and guidelines, framed by the owners, which prohibit renting or selling homes to Muslims and Christians. Each and every owner has to agree to the terms and conditions, or risk being not allowed to stay themselves.
Kiran Kumar and Tasleem Begum were in search of a flat for two different families. Tasleem, a resident of Begumpet, was searching for a flat on rent. Friends advised her to try Nallakunta. She saw a “to let” board and asked the owner to see the flat and about the advance. The owner asked her personal details, like her caste. Upon hearing that she was Muslim, his mood changed and said nothing was available. “You just said there’s a vacant flat?” she asked. “Kaha na, rent nahi hai,” he rebuffed her.
“We prefer to give rent only to Gouds,” the owner said. “It feels comfortable when one’s own religion is together.” He added that they prefer to keep the premises clean.
“A query about caste is not always the first thing,” Tasleem said. “If the name and surname of the prospective tenant denote nothing, sly enquiries are made about dietary habits. Muslims don’t ask about particular castes. But I don’t understand why these people make a big deal about giving rent to someone who pays money. We are not staying for free.”
Kiran Kumar is a Christian. When looking for a flat, he met an owner who to his face said she could only rent out to non-minorities.
“She was smart,” Kiran Kumar said. “She indirectly tried to find out my father’s occupation. As the conversation went on, she simply denied having anything available, saying sorry, it was already occupied.”
This reporter accompanied the two house-hunters, going from colony to colony in the city, but they found no luck. The agents for homes in Nallakunta tried to justify it saying that owners did not give to other castes due to cleanliness and neatness issues.
They also mentioned matters of congregations and prayers that some residents find “noisy”. The agents said they are often forced to ask the client’s caste before showing them a home.
Informally, the agents’ network avoids persons of other castes to this area to avoid acrimony or confrontation. They only show “safe” places where they will not feel any kind of discrimination.