Lofty Ideals, But Action Needed At Ground Level
The Jammu and Kashmir Waqf Board was recently created with much ado. The impression was conveyed at the very outset that the mess in the Waqf Board will be cleared on priority. The impression was also given that Waqf properties valued in hundreds of crores shall be restored and revived for the larger good of the faithful.
Four months have passed, but there is little forward movement in terms of retrieving the properties from illegal possession of the so-called tenants, revising the rentals, identification and demarcation of encroached properties and misuse of Waqf money by the former board members.
The new team, though upbeat, came under sharp criticism from many quarters for credibility and integrity at individual levels. The chairperson of the newly-constituted board, Dr Darakshan Indrabi was an exception. The team under the leadership of Dr Indrabi was initially very enthusiastic to show results.
Unfortunately, the whole process of cleansing the Waqf Board hit rough weather for various reasons. Some insiders told Kashmir Central that the Administration, particularly the revenue authorities, were hesitant to render a helping hand to the board.
Kashmir Central attempted to know what went wrong and why the Waqf Board could not make even a humble start in the right direction. Instances of official apathy came to the fore as we tried to dig out the truth.
Faith Shaken Due to Greed Of Some Waqf Board Members
The Waqf Board insiders allege that the UT Administration was not cooperative in retrieving the Waqf properties. It merits mention here that people attach faith with the Waqf Board. They expect that the income generated by the Waqf Board shall be judiciously used for public good.
Over many years, the faith of the people in the Waqf Board has been shaken. This has happened due to the multiple scams in which the assets and fund reserves of the Waqf Board have been siphoned by former members to build their personal riches.
But deep down, a number of devotees continue to keep their faith in Waqf Board. Recently, a devotee from Ganderbal donated land valuing Rs 1 crore to the Board. People have faith that Waqf Board members will make judicious use of the Board’s property. They believe that the members will use the incomes of the Waqf for social welfare, like the establishment of hospitals and university.
Please Waiting For Positive Action
According to insiders, the newly-constituted board organized two meetings since March. It was decided that the Board will issue notices to identify Waqf land and properties. The members discussed that detailed information about all Waqf property shall be shared with the Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir for geo-tagging, upliftment of shrines, streamlining the donation processes, cleanliness of the religious places, redressal of Waqf employees’ grievances, transparency, revising the rent and laying foundation for the cancer hospital.
The board seems to be on front foot to project a clean image and wipe the slate clean so that people are able to restore their faith in the organization. But nothing significant seems to have been achieved. This is despite the fact that it has been four months since the establishment of the new Board.
For the first time Waqf board of Jammu and Kashmir has been notified on the official gazette of the Union Government. The challenge remains that the UT administration has not empowered the board. The board does not have an office, infrastructure and other essential support needed for operations.
The logistics support has not been provided to the board members yet. To identify Waqf properties in different districts of entire Jammu and Kashmir, the board members needed to be guarded and provided with vehicle. The Deputy Commissioners of different districts have not been directed to expedite the task of identification of Waqf properties.
The faith of the people of Jammu and Kashmir will be restored in the Waqf Board when the organization starts functioning in a professional, responsible manner. Their faith will be restored when the incomes of the Board are when the incomes of the board are utilized in the proper way to serve more and more people. The faith of the public will be restored when all the Waqf properties which have been illegally occupied by influential people and former members are retrieved and dedicated to the public.
When it was constituted, the new Waqf Board showed the promise that good initiatives shall be taken soon, so the faithful started donating to it again.
Waqf Taking Many Initiatives: Sohail Kazmi, Member, J&K Waqf Board
In an interview with Kashmir Central, Sohail Kazmi, one of the board members said, “The Kishtwar shrine dispute was pending for many decades in the Judiciary between two local families of Kishtwar. In the second meeting, the board members called both the families, resolved the issue and took over the shrine along with 146 kanals of land and an Islamic school.”
This is indicative that people have again started placing their faith in the board.
Kazmi informed that the Board has decided to establish a cancer hospital. “The matter has been discussed with the Honourable Lieutenant Governor, and identification of suitable land is going on.”
Kazmi stated,” There had been irregularities in holding and handling the Waqf properties, which led to losses in crores.”
Recently, Auqaaf Islamia Khirram, Anantnag was dissolved by the UT administration. There are many such shrines and mosques which are managed by the local committees. According to insiders, Waqf will soon take control of these religious places.
Fr Auqaaf Islamia Khirram, the UT administration has issued an order that all the affairs of the Khirram Hazratbal Shrine will be managed by Waqf Board including all bank operations. “We are mobilizing men and machinery which will take some time. In near future we will handle and manage this shrine and many more,” said Kazmi.