Wondering why people talked of secularism in India, actor Emraan Hashmi Friday accused a Mumbai housing society of refusing him permission to buy a flat because he is Muslim - a complaint echoed in the past by others in Bollywood.
Emraan has complained to the Maharashtra Minorities Commission (MMC), which says the management of Nibbana Complex, a posh society in Bandra's elite Pali Hill area, is still considering his 'antecedents' before taking a final call.
'This has political connotations, so they don't want to talk about it openly. Yesterday, they told me that I can't get the NoC. I asked them why aren't you giving me the (no objection) certificate -- am I a criminal, or a terrorist or have I done anything illegal?' Emraan told reporters here Friday with his uncle and well-known filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt by his side.
Emraan said: 'It is strange that they don't tell you on your face that you can't get a house because you are a Muslim. It would have been easier if they would have told me openly. What they told me is that they can't allow me to live there because I am a serial kisser and my presence will have a bad influence on the children staying there.'
The actor, who featured in films like 'Murder' and 'Gangster - A Love Story', wanted to buy a house in Pali Hill so that he could stay close to his parents.
In his complaint to the MMC, he said he was refused the NoC despite paying the token amount of Rs.100,000 and the society management ignored his parents' requests to meet them over the issue.
MMC vice-chairman Abraham Mathai said: 'We have been told that the society is considering the 'antecedents' of the applicant (Hashmi) before it can take a final decision in the matter.'
'Accordingly, we have also advised Hashmi to get a Crime Investigation Department (CID) G Branch certificate, which will effectively prove his antecedents and submit it to the housing society,' Mathai told IANS today.
Mathai said if the society is found to have practised communal bias its office bearers could face action.
An office bearer of the Nibbana Complex, however, told mediapersons that certain other formalities had to be completed before Emraan could be granted the NoC. He added that a society meeting was scheduled for next Sunday to take a final decision, but the applicant had raised a controversy before that.
In the past, senior actress and former MP Shabana Azmi alleged religious discrimination when she attempted to buy a flat in Mumbai. Actor Arbaaz Khan, brother of Salman Khan, had also experienced similar difficulties when he attempted to buy a flat here.
Emraan said: 'Being a celebrity if I'm facing problems in buying a house here, I wonder what kind of problems others would have been facing. All the time we are talking about secularism but with such incidents what secularism are people talking about?'
He said someone suggested to him that he purchase the house in the name of his wife Parveen, who is a Hindu. 'I can do that, but why should I do that?' he asked.
Bhatt said such discrimination was a serious problem plaguing the country.
'Even 62 years after independence, the virus of communalism is alive in an area like Pali Hill, which is known as India's Beverly Hills where stars like Sunil Dutt lived and Dilip Kumar is still living there. It's a serious problem and is the country ready to accept that communalism is still surviving?'
'There are also certain societies in the area that do not give NoCs to non-Hindus,' he said.