Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who pushed a bill through Lok Sabha to secure Wakf properties, has said the new law would not weaken the Babri Masjid case nor any other Muslim asset, as is being made out by some MPs.
A wakf is an Islamic religious endowment, typically a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. In Haryana alone, such assets are worth Rs 11,000 crore.
Unhappy over the changes proposed to the Wakf Act, a delegation of mainly Muslim Rajya Sabha MPs, led by upper house’s deputy chairperson K. Rahman Khan, had approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently, riling Khurshid.
“Some people went to the PM. They could have come to me if there were doubts,” Khurshid told HT on Sunday.
Some of Khurshid’s detractors, who allegedly want to dislodge him, have argued that since the Babri Masjid did not have a legally valid registration, the bill would weaken the ongoing case.
“There is a misleading campaign. I don’t know what the motive is. Registration of Wakf properties is already required under section 87 of the Wakf Act and Babri is already registered,” the minister said.
“Registered or not, once a wakf (property), always a wakf (property),” Khurshid said, asking Muslims not to be nervous about amendments.
Rahman Khan denied he was launching a campaign against Khurshid or eyeing the minority affairs ministry. “I am not eyeing anything. I will accept whatever responsibility is handed to me. I am not behind any campaign against Khurshid,” the deputy leader of Rajya Sabha told HT.
The fresh changes in the wakf law forbid selling, buying or gifting wakf assets, which the government hopes will only strengthen the properties.
One of the rumours surrounding the new changes is registration of waqf properties. However, the provision is not new. Hearsay has led many clerics to assume that the amended Wakf Bill would make unregistered wakf properties shaky.
The minister said the provision for registration was “only a procedural requirement, not substantive”. Such a registration would also secure a wakf property, so that it is not usurped.