The Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind on Sunday decided to kick off countrywide demonstrations at a meeting of over 1,000 clerics here to oppose amendments to the Wakf Act — particularly a proposal to put Islamic assets called Wakf to profitable use.
The clerics often resort to agitations and force changes in government policy because they command powerful voting blocs.
Wakf assets are Islamic endowments for charity, usually in the form of prime real estate. According to a parliamentary report, they can generate over Rs10,000 crore in potential revenue for the community's welfare.
The Cabinet recently approved the hiring of a consultant to suggest a unique finance mechanism, since Wakf assets cannot be hired, mortgaged, gifted or sold.
"By developing commercial projects on Wakf assets, we could end up losing properties," said Arshad Madani, chief of the Jamiat's Arshad faction.
However, the government says this is simply not true. "There is no question of…(interference) in the constitutional rights of minority institutions, be it educational, religious or charitable," a government statement said.
The changes, on the contrary, seek to bring more stringent clauses to punish encroachers of Wakf, give more powers to the Wakf council and develop neglected Wakf assets.