Muslims in Kolkata find a place to call home

After being turned away by several landlords for months, Aftab Alam and his three friends, all of them doctors, finally found a place to rent in south Kolkata. Their elation, however, was short-lived. Soon after moving in, a neighbour told their landlord that they ought to be evicted, arguing, “Four Muslim men staying in a predominantly Hindu neighbourhood is problematic.” Dr. Alam recalls, “It was disheartening. I rented the flat to the rest after strenuous night shifts. Suddenly, the peace was disrupted…[we had] huge expectations from Kolkata.” His predicament was unexpectedly addressed. When he spoke of it on social media, Dr. Alam was contacted by Sanghati Abhijan (SA), a voluntary group that recently initiated its ‘Open-a-Door’ campaign to stop discrimination against potential Muslim tenants. SA’s volunteers resolved the situation by engaging peacefully with the neighbours, the landlord and the tenants themselves. “We thank them for their support at a critical time,” says Dr. Alam. The intervention helped him and his friends stay on instead of relocating, as they had first planned.

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