Bhopal to Saudi Arabia: Daughter to be custodian of huge Waqf properties
The mantle of maintaining huge properties of the erstwhile royal family extending from Bhopal to Saudi Arabia, now falls on Pataudi's daughter Saba Ali Khan, whom he had begun grooming for the task three years ago.
The properties that are now under the royal trust include religious structures, grand mosques and adjoining lands, charitable institutions, vast agricultural properties, graveyards, the famous Raisen dargah and the 'rubaats' for Haj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, that are run by the Auqaf-e-Shahi (the royal Waqf). However, the role of handling these properties is more of a socio-religious mantle rather than being an owner.
During his visit to Bhopal three years ago, Pataudi had declared that Saba would hand over affairs of the royal Waqf properties, in her new role as 'naib mutawalli' (his deputy).
These properties are apart from the few personal properties left with the family. With her head covered, Saba, dressed in salwar-kamiz, was taken around by Pataudi himself to have a look at the properties whose affairs she had to manage.
"Pataudi was the mutawalli of Auqaf-e-Shahi and now Saba would take over", said Rashid Ul Hasan Khan 'Afaq', who was his personal secretary for almost ten years.
Says litterateur Professor Afaq Ahmad, "It is natural that after Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, his daughter, Saba, would become the mutawalli (custodian). There shouldn't be any hitch in that", he said.
"With his clout, he could have played even a greater role in Bhopal. Now his daughter has an important responsibility on her", said Afaq Ahmad. Apart from Waqf land, the family owns private properties also but the status of several properties is unclear.
It is believed that as Saba is not associated with Bollywood and thus away from glamour, she was chosen for the role. This hardly raised any eyebrows in Bhopal, as Begums had ruled the erstwhile princely state for over a century.
The properties are estimated to be worth hundreds of crores but as they are Waqf properties, her role would more be supervisory. The Waqf properties can't be put for any other use except for which they have been endowed.
"There are shops on Waqf land from which the income is nominal. Besides, many properties are under encroachment, which she in her new role would have to deal with", says a Waqf official, on conditions of anonymity. "Regarding personal properties, some of them are either under litigation and a few have reportedly been sold as well", he added.