Parsi community divided over sale of land in Dharwad

Members accuse federation of selling valuable properties

The plan to sell a piece of land in Dharwad, Karnataka, has become a matter of contention in the Parsi community.

Article by Jyoti Shelar | The Hindu

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While the Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India (FPZAI), an umbrella body of all Parsi anjumans in the country, is selling the land, some community members have called it yet another attempt to sell off valuable Parsi properties. On Monday, FPZAI secretary Noshir Dadrawala resigned from the post to protest the sale.

The community has used part of the Dharwad land as a cemetery due to the absence of a dakhma or Tower of Silence, where Parsis traditionally lay the dead to rest.

“Instead of preserving and protecting these properties, the FPZAI is attempting to wipe out all of them. Who is giving them the permission to do so?” said Rayomand Zaiwalla from Mumbai. Another Parsi, Homi Dalal, said there is no transparency in these decisions.

Funds for legal case?

Mr. Dadrawala told The Hindu that the proceeds from the sale may be used to fight a legal case. A woman has moved the Calcutta High Court seeking entry for her grandchildren, born to a Hindu father, into the fire temple in Kolkata. The FPZAI is intervening in the case.

“I cannot see myself as part of this policy, process or procedure,” said Mr. Dadrawala, who is also a trustee of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet. “A community with our kind of demography cannot afford infighting. The need of the hour is to arbitrate internally, not waste time and money in courts.”

Community members say it is surprising that FPZAI needs funds for the case, as the lawyers are working pro bono.

FPZAI president Yazdi Desai, however, has rubbished the allegation. The decision to sell the Dharwad property was discussed at the FPZAI meeting in March 2011. “Therefore, its sale has no link to the Calcutta HC case,” he said.

“Dharwad is a small town with not a single Parsi. The property is in danger of being encroached upon. FPZAI has years ago decided to sell all such properties and use the money for the welfare of the community.”