JAMMU, Jan 30: Chairman Legislative Council Haji Anayat Ali today ordered probe by the House Committee into the illegal allotment of prime Waqaf land worth crores to ‘blue eyed’ people in posh Gandhi Nagar area, Below Gumat and near Hotel Fortune Rivera in Jammu and other places and said that the House Panel would also recommend measures for optimum utilization of Waqaf assets.
Intervening during the reply to a question of NC Member Dr Shehnaz Ganai regarding misuse of Waqaf assets/land, which evoked a strong debate in the Upper House, the Chairman accepted the plea of several members and said that the House Committee would look into the serious allegations raised by the members and also recommend various measures for the same.
The NC member alleged that prime Waqaf land below Gumat, adjoining Van Bhavan and also in posh Gandhi Nagar area was sold/ leased out at throw away price by some people at the helm of affairs to their favourites. “Why Government failed to recover rent of the Waqaf land in Poonch and other places? On what grounds favours were showered on some selective blue- eyed people to allot/ lease out such prime land worth crores at just peanuts price?”, Dr Ganai asked.
While intervening Minister for R&B and Parliamentary Affairs AR Veeri said that it was serious issue. Some affective mechanism is needed to be devised to protect Waqaf properties. He said the former Chief Minister Late Mufti Mohd Sayeed was also very particular about it and he held several meetings and took some affective decisions. He assured the members to hold a meeting with the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti shortly and take some more revolutionary measures in this regard. PDP member Yasir Reshi supported the framing of House Committee and said all such cases of past 60 years be investigated.
Earlier, Minister of State for Hajj and Auqaf Syed Farooq Ahmad Andrabi claimed that 2509 Kanal of Wakaf land was under occupation of various departments/agencies and individuals in the State. He said no rent is being paid to Auqaf Islamia Poonch for the land under occupation of different agencies except for two sites of nearly 21 kanal and 10 marlas, situated at Jhullas village and Poonch city.
The Minister said that the process for retrieval of Wakaf properties has been initiated. “The matter has been taken up with the Home Department, as well as various other concerned departments for vacation of the Wakaf properties under their occupation,” he assured.
He said the occupants have also been directed to pay the rent regularly. He said necessary proceedings under the Wakaf Act 2001 have been initiated to retrieve the property held by individuals.
Andrabi further disclosed that Waqaf land, recently retrieved at Gandhi Nagar Jammu is temporarily being used as a parking lot as well as for holding exhibitions and trade fairs and the site is expected to generate nearly Rs 40 lakh during the current financial year. He said the State Wakaf Council has taken up the matter for the remaining land at Gandhi Nagar with the occupants for negotiation to bring them in Waqaf fold on case to case basis.
Giving details about some big beneficiaries, Andrabi said Waqaf land measuring 3 kanal and 17 marlas, Below Gumat is in two patches, out of which an area of 2 kanal has been leased out by State Wakaf Council through auction against a premium of Rs 1.25 crore in favour of one Tariq Ahmed Parray. The second portion of one kanal and 13 marla is being allotted to J&K State Financial Corporation.
There is one more patch of land measuring one kanal 13 marlas, out of which 17 marlas and 61 sft has been allotted to one Yasmeen Choudhary, Editor-in-Chief, Daily State Observer against a premium of Rs 77.03 lakhs and second patch of 16 marlas stands leased out to Manzoor Ahmed Sheikh against a premium of Rs 72 lakhs by the Council. The State Wakaf Council in its 17th meeting has cancelled the said allotment of Manzoor Ahmed
The Minister said that Auqaf Department has initiated a number of schemes for the welfare of the community especially for poor and downtrodden sections of the society. He said three nursing institutes at Jammu, Rajouri and Kishtwar have been set up while as Boys Hostel near GGM Science College has been established.
Andrabi said that Auqaf is also providing scholarships and pension to widows, orphans besides honorarium to Imams, Moazzins and Chowkidars of graveyards. He said an amount of Rs 8.50 lakh is also being provided annually to the needy patients of remote areas.
The Minister said the State Waqaf Council has decided to establish three Nursing Institutes, modern schools and hostel facility in order to provide better education to the students of poor and downtrodden sections on highly affordable rates. He said some seats in these institutes have also been earmarked for the poor meritorious students.
He also claimed that the Waqaf Board as well as Waqaf Council are being administered by separate legislation and in order to merge both the institutions, combined legislation is required.
Legislators Yasir Reshi, Sajjad Kichloo, Showkat Ganai, Saif-ud-Din and others raised the supplementary questions.