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Govt moots proposal for Christian, Sikh Waqf boards

UP Minorities Commission secretary says the proposal is under active consideration of the state government, reports M Hasan.
None | By M Hasan, Lucknow
PUBLISHED ON JAN 17, 2007 06:23 PM IST

In order to keep Sikh and Christian communities in good humour at the time of state assembly election, Mulayam Singh Yadav Government has been considering constitution of Sikh and Christian Waqf boards separately. The move is aimed at protecting religious properties of the two communities.

The Secretary Minorities Commission Mohd Akram told Hindustan Times on Wednesday that “the proposal was under active consideration of the state government”. The two communities for a long time had been demanding constitution of Waqf board and the issue came up for discussion at minorities’ day on December 18, 2006. The proposal was sent to the government on January 1, 2007.

A senior official in Survey Waqf Commissioner office Abrar Ahmad said, “Government has appreciated the proposal." He said, "Sunni and Shia Waqf boards have been separately protecting the properties of the two Muslim sects, but there is no such provision for Christians and Sikhs." Muslim Waqf properties are covered under the Waqf Act 1995.

He said, “Christian properties in the form of Church and graveyard are spread over in nearly 13 districts including Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Aligarh, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh, Allahabad and other places." Ahmad said the formation of two waqf boards would require legislation. He said after getting green signal from the government, the minority commission and Waqf Commissioner office would summon the conference of religious leaders of the two communities to finalise the modalities of the boards.

Christian member of Minorities Commission Neelam Romilla Singh, who was instrumental in mooting the Waqf board proposal, told HT, “Christian graveyards are in bad condition in the state.” She added, "Land Mafiosi have captured prime land of the community in Kanpur.” She said that efforts are also being made to capture Sigra Mission Compound in Varanasi.

Neelam said that at some places Archeological survey of India (ASI) has put up its signboard claiming ownership to the graveyard. She said the ASI had taken this decision because these burial grounds had graves of British officials of Raj era. She said, “ASI has not been looking after these properties except putting up signboards."

Neelam said the community had been trying to protect these graveyards through Christian Cemetery Boards in various districts. She further said there was no fund for the maintenance of the prime properties and constitution of Waqf board would go a long way in protecting these properties.

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