Hindu residents of Manekwadi, Devbag, Anantwadi, Git Chowk, and Pragji Dave Sheri in Bhavnagar have urged the implementation of the Disturbed Areas Act to halt the area’s demographic shift.
They participated in the march headed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) section of Bhavnagar and presented the district collector with a memorandum urging implementation of the Act.
The local Hindus allege that some members of the Muslim community purchased houses in these regions at a very high price at first and later, when the prices of the areas dropped, seized the remaining houses owned by Hindu residents at extremely low prices.
This is not the first time residents of Bhavnagar have urged the application of the Disturbed Areas Act to halt population shifts. Previously, in January, more than 5,000 Hindus demanded the same thing by taking to the streets and submitting a memorandum to the Collector. What does the Disturbed Areas Act entail? To promote communal harmony and tranquility, district administration could designate specific regions as “disturbed zones” susceptible to demographic change.
In certain regions, the transfer of immovable property would necessitate an intricate procedure. In the application, the seller must indicate that they are selling their own property. Frequently, the Disturbed Areas Act is misinterpreted as applying when at least one party between the purchase and sale is Hindu or Muslim.
In fact, such transactions in such locations would necessitate compliance with the law. This is done to protect the religious and community significance and identity of locations prone to demographic change.
In 1986, the act was first introduced in Ahmedabad. During that time, as a result of large-scale, ongoing riots in the city of Ahmedabad, a number of localities began to have difficulties in the sale of Hindu-owned property, primarily owing to fear caused by Muslims.
To prevent this, the then-government of Gujarat enacted a law. In 1991, it was transformed into the DA Act. Under the DA Act, a District Collector may declare a specific section of a city or town to be a “disturbed area.” This notification is typically made based on the area’s history of community uprisings. Following this notification, the transfer of immovable property in the affected area cannot occur unless the collector specifically approves an application submitted by the buyer and seller.
In Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Himmatnagar, Godhra, Kapadvanj, and Bharuch, the DA Act is applicable.
In “disturbed” communities, there were instances of antisocial elements selling and purchasing properties by threatening residents or offering them higher prices. In some instances, antisocial elements were able to complete transfers without the collector’s previous approval by registering the transfer deed under the Registration Act, which did not require the collector’s prior approval under the DA Act.
This had led to the concentration or polarization of localities. To close such loopholes and strengthen the penalties for violating the Act as a deterrent, the Gujarat Assembly introduced and enacted the amendment bill in July 2019.
The President has given his approval to a bill voted by the Gujarat Legislature in 2019 that amended the ‘Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991″—more commonly known as the ‘Disturbed Areas (DA) Act.”