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Blind Indian teacher barred from renting flat 'for being a Muslim'

NEW DELHI: A visually impaired teacher at Delhi University has alleged that she was barred from moving into a rented accommodation after the landlord found out she is a Muslim.

In a video posted on YouTube, Reem Shamsudeen, 30, from Kerala called on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to look into the matter and ensure that people do not face such discrimination on the basis of their faith.

Shamsudeen – an assistant professor of English in a college affiliated with Delhi University – said she had paid in advance so that she and her mother could move into the rented flat after the summer vacations.

When she arrived at the flat with her luggage, the landlord refused to give Shamsudeen the key, saying she could not rent the flat to a Muslim. However, she did not provide details about the location of the flat or the landlord in the video.

“Of course this was a shocking experience, considering Delhi boasts of a cosmopolitan and metropolitan nature all the time,” she slammed in the video.

The two-minute video went viral on social media and has got more than 15,000 views on YouTube. The teacher has since moved into another rented accommodation with her mother.

Reem Shamsudeen said while she had lived in Hyderabad for the past eight years to do her MA, MPhil and PhD, she had “never for once experienced this level of discrimination based on my religion”.

Addressing Kejriwal in the video, she said: “I believe…the Delhi you promised accommodates every citizen, Bihari, Bengali, Malayali, Manipuri, Kashmiri, Goan, black, white, man, woman, transgender, gay, blind, deaf, homeless.

“I hope no one…will have to encounter this kind of shameful and inhuman experience in future and I urge you…to kindly look into the issue.”

Shamsudeen told Indian media she had nothing further to say regarding the matter.

“I have said everything in the video. I have nothing more to add to that. What happened to me was not an isolated incident,” she rued.

Sources in the college where she teaches said Shamsudeen is avoiding speaking about the incident because she does not want her case to be politicized. “She does not want the incident to get politicized. May be she is scared about her job,” said a colleague.

Meanwhile, civil society activists have taken up Shamsudeen’s case with the National Commission for Minorities, which is looking into the incident.

The activists have also asked the commission to issue a notice to the Delhi government and seek its response.

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