Minorities and land predators
The Zoroastrian community of Karachi has been fighting to save its communal properties from destruction for over a generation now. The Karachi Parsi Cooperative Housing Society is an island of serenity amongst the concrete chaos of Bunder Road. The society was formed in 1920 with the primary objective to provide housing facilities for the Zoroastrian community, so that they may conduct their lives, within the precincts of the Society, in accordance with their religious and cultural practices and traditions.
It was with this object that the eminent philanthropists, Sir Cowasjee Katrak and Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta Esquire (the first elected mayor of Karachi), had approached the government with a request for a piece of land. And so 96,000 square yards of undeveloped land was granted to the society in 1924.
The society, through its own funds coupled with the labour of love, built all the roads, lanes, drains, culverts and dwellings within the society for the use of its members. The only thing it did not build was a tower of silence. However, the absence of a tower of silence does not mean that there are no vultures in the vicinity. The predator threatening the society is the land mafia. One by one, its properties are being targeted for misappropriation.
Same is the case in India, where not only the land mafia, even the Govt of India is involved in grabbing land of our tiny minority under some guise or other and our community is helpless inspite of the so called secular constitution of India. Even Big Parsi Business Houses try to get land at 5% of the value and encash the same in the name of charity eg. lands at Palghar of the Iranian Anjuman where the schemes proposed by the big businesses were preposterous and ridiculous to say the least or you can outright cheating.