The government has initiated an “intense campaign” to free Waqf properties grabbed by “Waqf mafia” in several states, union minister of state for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Tuesday.
“A campaign on a war footing has been started to free the Waqf properties from the clutches of mafia across the country so that these properties can be used for the welfare of the Muslim community and ensure their socio-economic and educational empowerment,” he said.
A one-man ‘Board of Adjudication’ will be set up, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or retired high court chief justice, to look into complaints regarding Waqf properties, Naqvi said while chairing the 74th meeting of Central Waqf Council in the Capital.
He said the Centre has taken a serious note of complaints regarding mafia grabbing Waqf properties in some states in connivance with officials of the state Waqf boards.
“Encroachment on Waqf properties will not be tolerated. Strict action will be taken against encroachers, no matter how powerful they are,” said the minister adding that a high-level inquiry has been going on in this connection and strict legal action taken against erring persons soon,” said Naqvi.
The minister said state Waqf boards have been directed to get online registration of all Waqf properties done by the year-end.
There are 31 state Waqf boards with more than 4,27,000 registered Waqf properties across the country. There are many non-registered Waqf properties as well.
While the minority affairs ministry has provided financial assistance to the state Waqf boards for online registration of their properties, Naqvi said: “Some states lacked seriousness in implementing the directive.”
He said that tribunals will also be set up in more states. Currently, three-member tribunals are being established in 15-16 states.
Naqvi said his ministry, in cooperation with the state governments, will construct schools, colleges, malls, hospitals, skill development centres etc., the revenue from which will be utilised for educational and other developmental activities pertaining to the Muslim community.
“Multipurpose community centres ‘Sadbhav Mandap’ will also be constructed on Waqf land to be used for conducting marriage ceremonies, exhibitions and also as relief centres during calamity,” he added.