National

“Waqf Development Agency a conspiracy”

New Delhi: A news item published in an Urdu daily said that the ruling UPA government through its ministry for minorities affairs has been using, or proposes to use Waqf properties worth billions or even trillions of rupees spread throughout the country, which are meant to be used exclusively for the benefit of Muslims, for the benefit of other minorities also and has been planning for this since 2008. It is reported that in 2008 when Abdur Rahman Antulay was the minister for minorities affairs the central government had given its approval for the constitution of Waqf Development Agency. Secretary of this ministry at that time, Vivek Mehrotra had prepared broad features of this Agency according to which all Waqf properties in the country were to be brought under National Minorities Financial Development Corporation (NMFDC) and would be run under it like the banking system for the benefit of all minorities and in which 74% share will be private, though it was not made clear whether the share will be for Muslims or for others also and how much of each. This needed reconstitution of NMFDC.

Central Waqf Council members Maulana Fazlur Rahim Mujaddidi, Syed Shahabuddin and Justice Nasimuddin had strongly objected to this proposal and in their meetings with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh and also in their joint letter dt. 21 April 2010 to them had expressed their fear that after development of Waqf properties the increased income accruing therefrom will be used, instead of exclusively for poor Muslims, widows, orphanages, madrasas etc, for other minorities also in contravention of Sharia principles, and as normally happens, the lion’s share would be used for other minorities and a very small part thereof will be given to or used for the benefit of Muslims.

It may be stated here that just before the proposal for the formation of Waqf Development Agency was being considered, Central Waqf Council’s governing body had drawn up a plan of its own for the constitution of a Waqf Development Corporation under Central Waqf Council with 51% government and 49% private share whose job would be to develop waqf properties and to use the increased income for usual activities of the Waqf i.e., for the benefit of poor Muslims and institutions in accordance with Sharia but the concerned ministry (minorities affairs) put this proposal in cold storage and instead proposed the formation of Waqf Development Agency, the brain child of Mehrotra. According to reliable sources, the plan behind the constitution of Waqf Development Agency (WDA) was doubtful because neither Waqf Development Council nor state Waqf Boards were consulted before the idea of WDA was mooted. However, when the ‘conspiracy’ of WDA was finalised and sent to Waqf Development Council for ‘formal’ information, its secretary opposed it, saying that it is illegal because benefits of Waqf properties are meant to be used for Muslims only and not for others. At this ‘audacity’, according to sources, the secretary was summoned by Vivek Mehrotra in his office and shabbily treated and transferred from his post. The secretary filed a petition in the High Court against his removal/transfer which the court upheld and he was reinstated to his post in the Waqf Development Council. The fate of Mehrotra’s brain child, Waqf Development Agency is not known and is still hanging in the balance.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2011 on page no. 7

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