The Congress party urged and demanded a full-fledged probe into the Wakf properties, as number of properties, encroachments and the ongoing disputes, especially between the Revenue and other government departments with the Wakf Board giving hints of the scams. There are many accusations of corruption against several officials of the Wakf board suggest that the real duties of these officials have changed from maintaining of Wakf properties for the benefit of Muslim community to using their authority and power in illegally selling off Wakf lands and properties at cheaper rates in return for special cut offs for them. Hardly any community member is ever benefited from these lands allotted for Muslim welfare. Even today, many Muslims are without shelter after 66 years of Independence. Inspite of owning property spanning 600,000 acres, Muslims are one of the poorest communities in India.
Wakf means donation of transferable or fixed property by Muslims for the welfare of the poor and the needy and for maintaining properties dedicated to mosques, tombs, orphanages, shrines, imambargahs, madrasas, rouzas etc. The wakif has the right to employ either himself or any Muslim as mutawalli (manager or custodian or caretaker). Wakf endowments can be made in any form as enshrined in Qazis Act II of 1864, Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act of 1955, Central Wakf Act of 1954, Wakf Amendment Act of 1959, UP Muslim Act of 1960, to name a few. The wakif, in his deed, appoints a mutawalli for the administration of the Wakf.
After Independence, the greedy politicians, bureaucrats and land mafia covet over wakf properties because these properties are mostly found in prime localities. Unfortunately, most of the corrupt officials who sit in Wakf Boards are Muslims and well aware of the implications of violating pledges made for charitable purposes, they are doing despite the fact that wakf property cannot be sold and it is non transferable. The interested parties have found ways to circumvent this obligation. Many such properties are leased out after pockets of the officials concerned have been adequately filled. A builder or businessman first identifies a Wakf property, approaches the members or chairman of the local board and acquires it for themselves after bribing the board members. Lack of accountability and a defined law in this regards come to their aid. Thousands of mosques and even graveyards have been encroached in this way across the country.
States government makes an arrangement to elect their puppets at the wakf boards, who can be involved in fixing them in the first place. Most of them are incompetent about wakf management and relevant laws. The Citi Central Mall which stands in Central Mumbai was constructed on land bought from the Wakf Board of Maharashtra. Before Citi Central was constructed on that land, an Orphanage under the Haji Zakariya Ahmed Patel, Mohammadan Orphanage & Asylum Trust used to exist there. This land was sold for just Rs. 1 crore in September 2004 to Neel Kamal Realtors & Builders Pvt Ltd. The estimated value of that land in 2004 was Rs. 100 Crores! How members of Maharashtra Wakf Board involved in corruption can indulge in such acts? It sold a 4,535 square-metre Wakf plot in the upmarket Altamount Road to Mr. Mukesh Ambani for a mere Rs. 21.05 crore in 2003 when its market value was not less than Rs 500 crore. Mr. Ambani’s 27-storey ‘Antilla’ stands on that plot now. Wakf boards have almost institutionalised the tendency to wheel and deal in land donated in the name of God. Only a transparent system of management can extinguish the culture of corruption, nepotism and greed that is consuming wakf endowments in India.
The Maharashtra Wakf Board Chief Executive Officer (CEO) ND Pathan was caught red handed accepting bribe of Rs. 30 lakhs by the Anti-Corruption Bureau. He is known to have issued several non-objection certificates to builders in Mumbai illegally. On the first place, why the Wakf Board is selling its properties and even if they are selling it why in ‘Raddi ke Bhav’ instead of crores? The deal has been termed as illegal by many experts.
Congress leader Aarif Naseem Khan has also ‘allegedly’ misused Wakf lands for private construction business purpose. He also allowed other builders to come up with their construction projects in Mumbai’s prime Wakf land. Afternoon Voice possesses all the related papers in this regard. Wakf corruption in India can be said the most systematically-managed daylight robbery in Mumbai and across India, carried out from decades.
There are additional allegations of financial irregularities in the leasing of a part of the Peer Baghdadi Dargah in Mumbai by the Wakf Board to a hotel for a mere Rs. 70 lakhs whereas the property’s value is close to Rs. 14 crores. Similarly, the Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department has registered four separate cases of criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy against former Andhra Pradesh State Wakf Board chairman Syed Ghulam Afzal Biyabani alias Khusro Poasha and others for allegedly causing huge loss to the board by misusing their official positions and leasing or selling Wakf Property at very cheap rates. Wakf endowments in India are staggering. There are around 800,000 registered properties and as much as 6,00,000 acres of land, the largest in the world, Wakf Boards in India possesses. Today, the Wakf Board stands smeared with serious corruption allegations.