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Wakf land issue dominates DRC meeting

Staff Reporter

Special meeting will be held soon to discuss the issue, says Mohd Ali Shabbir

Government questioned on transfer of three senior officials of Wakf Board

Wakf land sold to Lanco for Rs. 4 crore against market value of Rs. 20 crore: VHR

Photo G. Krishnaswamy

Making a point: Minister for Energy, Minorities’ Welfare and Wakf Mohd. Ali Shabbir, Minister for BC Welfare M. Mukesh Goud and MPs -- Anjan Kumar Yadav and V. Hanumantha Rao – at the District Review Committee meeting in Hyderabad on Monday.—

Hyderabad: Though it was not on the agenda, the sale and encroachment of Wakf properties dominated the District Review Committee meeting here on Monday. Cutting across party lines, MLAs and MPs expressed concern at the ‘failure’ of the government in protecting prime Wakf lands in and around Hyderabad. The two-hour debate saw TRS, MIM, CPI and CPI(M) members engaging in heated arguments. At the end of the acrimonious discussion, DRC chairman and district in-charge Minister Mohd Ali Shabbir agreed to convene a special meeting at Secretariat within a fortnight to discuss the Wakf issue threadbare.

VHR raises issue

Interestingly, it was Congress Member of Parliament V. Hanumantha Rao, who raised the issue and tried to corner Mr. Shabbir, who holds the Wakf portfolio. He read out a report to show how the court faulted the government for not protecting Wakf properties. Failure to safeguard the Wakf properties would bring a bad name to the government. “Sale of Wakf lands is not in the Congress manifesto. So, what reply should will give to minorities,” he asked much to the embarrassment of the Mr. Shabbir and his colleague M. Mukesh Goud. Mr. Rao wanted to know why the government transferred three senior officials in Wakf Board who were dealing with Wakf affairs. Huge chunk of Wakf land belonging to Hazrath Husaini Shah Dargah in Manikonda was sold to Lanco for Rs. 4 crore when the market value was Rs. 20 crore per acre. This was not all. Mr. Rao wanted to know what Lanco chairman L. Rajgopal was doing at the ‘mutawallis’ meeting called by the Minister at his house recently.

Taken aback by the virulent attack, Mr. Shabbir Ali termed the allegation baseless and said he was prepared for an open discussion on wakf affairs. At least the CPI(M) member of Parliament P. Madhu had the decency to thank the Rajasekhara Reddy government for handing over 5,237 acres of Wakf land in Vishakpatnam to the Wakf Board, Mr. Shabbir Ali said and wondered what happened to Mr. Rao.

The government, Mr. Shabbir, said was committed to protecting the Wakf properties in the State. It had engaged the high profile lawyer Soli Sorabji by paying a fee of Rs. 5 lakh to fight the Jamia Nizamia case in the Supreme Court. Up to April 2006, the 1,654 acres of Manikonda land was in the government records and now the Wakf Board was contesting it, he said and reeled out figures to show the land allotted by the Telugu Desam government to various companies.

Majlis MP Asaduddin Owaisi said till his party raised the issue in the Assembly, none was aware of the sale of Wakf lands in the State. He faulted the government for not initiating action in respect of Wakf land occupied by Santosh-Sapan theatre in Abids and the Task Force at Greenlands. At the Indo Arab Mosque in Banjara Hills, a hotel was opened, yet the government was keeping quiet. There was a need for joint survey as the revenue and Wakf records didn’t match, he said.

Mr. Madhu and S. Sudhakar Reddy (CPI) demanded a white paper on Wakf properties and called a halt to the sale of valuable land to multi-national firms. The CPI leader strongly objected to the remark made by Akbaruddin Owaisi and said he had no monopoly on Wakf matters.

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