By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani
Ahmedabad: Former Minister K. Rehman Khan recently said that largescale corruption in the Waqf Boards are defeating the very purpose of their existence. While the boards need more power and teeth, they should only be granted after a thorough administrative overhaul. There is huge corruption in state Waqf Boards and because of this Waqf properties cannot be used for the purpose they are meant for. Ruling parties have given the responsibilities of the Waqf Boards to their party workers, despite the fact that they lack the desired skills to administer the boards. In addition, they are corrupt. They have not lived up to the expectations of the community. Whether it is the security of the properties, illegal encroachment on Waqf properties or the rent coming from these properties, the boards have completely failed on all fronts.he furthert told that We should unitedly take up the cause of the Waqf properties. All Muslims should take the issue of illegal encroachment over the Waqf properties very seriously.
Generally speaking, Waqf in Islam connotes donations by individuals and institutions in the name of God for the benefit of the poor and the needy. While it continues to discharge its main obligations across the country, the 35-state Waqf Boards in India are by no means a catchall welfare net. They are owners of huge properties and owe surprisingly little accountability to the constituents they purport to serve. The credentials of the powerful Waqf Boards makes for interesting reading: five lakh registered properties with more than 600,000 acres of land and an estimated Rs 1,20,000 crore worth of book value with a measly Rs 163 crore coming in as rentals, hoardings, change of ownership and through sales, speakers said.
Introspecting on the state of waqf management, prominent leaders of the Muslim community have blamed Muslims for the mismanagement of 1.10 lakh Waqf bodies holding four lakh acres of waqf lands all over the country. In a day-long national seminar on Nizaam e Auqaaf (system of waqfs) for preservation, awareness and development of Waqf properties here K Rahman Khan, former Union Minister for Minority Affairs, expressed dissatisfaction at working of Waqf bodies in the country, “for which no one can be blamed except Muslims,” he said.
The event marked the centenary year of Ahmedabad Sunni Muslim Waqf Committee. Khan said the new waqf act would change things for the better. He said the act provided for doing away with exemption for waqf properties from rent rules, which was a good sign for financial health of waqf bodies. Secondly, he said the provision for setting up of dedicated three-member tribunals to decided on Waqf property related disputes would accelerate disposal of cases.
National-level leaders including former Union minority affairs minister K Rahaman Khan, additional attorney general Zafaryab Jilani were also present at the seminar. Talking about the controversy, businessman Naseer Shaikh said, “I tried to draw attention of dignitaries to the issue of encroachment on Waqf property, but I was not allowed to speak. Organizers told me to wait till the question-answer session. I waited but finally I was not allowed to talk about intrusion on Musa Suhag Kabristan by Dharmadev Group builders. A PIL has also been filed in the Gujarat High Court.”
Kaleem Siddiqui, president of Tarkash Foundation, said, “We had participated in the seminar with documentary evidence. But after waiting till 4:30 pm, when we tried to raise the issue again in the evening, organisers deployed bouncers around us.”
Rizwan Kadri, President of Ahmedabad Sunni Waqf Committee, countered the allegation citing discipline issue. “Decorum should be maintained in every event. We already had question-answer session at the end of seminar. But some participants tried to disturb the lectures of dignitaries. We had asked them to submit their questions in writing for the session. They didn’t have correct data. I replied to their queries saying that we are only trustees and we will be bound by the HC’s verdict. We don’t have prejudice against anyone.” General Secretary of Gujarat state unit of All India Milli Council’s Abdul Hafiz Lakhani said, “If the organisers were transparent, they should have given protestors an opportunity to speak.”
[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper “IndianMuslimObserver.com” as Associate Editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his cell 09228746770]