Private construction continues to rob the minority communities of their already limited graveyard space.
The recent is a house coming up on a Wakf Board land at Jhamat village in this district in contravention of the chief minister’s promising on June 24 to make provisions in the annual budget for purchasing area for cemeteries.
This after Minority Commission had reported shortage of burial grounds, a grave issue for Christians and Muslims.
Waqf land can’t be bought or sold. I can only be given out on lease, yet for the past almost 45 days, an individual, Salim Khan, is building a private house on 1.5 acres at Jhamat that has been kept for Muslim burial. He has installed even a submersible pump at the site to get water for construction.
A month ago, during Hindustan Times’ first visit to the site, Salim Khan had said the house was for one “Pehalwan”, who had lease and no-objection certificate (NOC) from the board, while the borad’s estate officer, Abdul Rasheed, said these had been given to one Darshan Singh almost seven years ago for construction on 300 square feet up to 2014 but he had no idea about construction by any Salim Khan on almost 600-sq-ft graveyard space.
“There is a 15% increase in the lease amount every three years but the Waqf land can neither be sublet nor sold further under any circumstances,” the estate officer confirmed, agreeing to look into the matter.
SMELLING A SCAM
After failing to get a satisfactory reply from the board, some villagers lodged a complaint with block development and panchayat officer (BDPO) Rajinder Kumar Gupta on June 11, who visited the spot and got an undertaking from Salim Khan that he would stop the construction. The work continues, however, and the BDPO told the complainants who went back to him that only Wakf could take any action.
“We have come to know that the lessee has sold this land to Salim Khan, and the board, in spite of the complaint, has failed to act,” said Gurmukh Singh, one of the complainants.
COMPLAINT MOVED TO DC
In the land revenue record of Muja scheme at Jhamat village, khasra 41 is earmarked for a 13-kanal-14-marla “kabristan” (Muslim graveyard), while the recent jamabandi document has different measurements. The villagers now have moved the complaint to DC Rajat Agarwal, quoting Section 30 of Panchayti Raj Act, 1994, which says that village panchayats are responsible for maintenance and construction of gaveryards and cremation grounds and so the rural development and panchayat department should intervene.
Deputy commissioner Rajat Agarwal agreed to ask the district development and panchayat officer to probe and file a report.
“I will forward a copy of the complaint to the Wakf Board estate officer for necessary action,” the deputy commissioner added.