In Jammu, Wakf properties up for grabs
Representational Pic

In Jammu, Wakf properties up for grabs

In what reflects the sorry state of affairs,Wakf properties worth hundreds of crores of rupees in this region have either been rented out at throwaway prices or lie under unauthorized occupation of central forces and J&K Government.

In what reflects the sorry state of affairs,Wakf properties worth hundreds of crores of rupees in this region have either been rented out at throwaway prices or lie under unauthorized occupation of central forces and J&K Government. 

As many as 3500 kanals of the land have been "usurped" by the forces and several government departments as State-controlled Wakf Council has failed to reclaim the assets.

Official documents in possession of Greater Kashmir reveal that properties of Muslim shrines, Iddgahs and graveyards are under the illegal occupation of Army, paramilitary forces and state government departments in different areas here.

The forces alone have grabbed 2710 kanals and 16 marlas of land in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch districts. Not to talk of paying rent of some of these properties or vacating them, the forces don't even respond to communiqués of State administration in this regard.

In one such case, Deputy Commissioner Poonch has now sought intervention of the State Home Department after Defence Estate Officer, Northern Command did not respond to several communiqués sent from his office.

"It is stated that revenue papers regarding Wakf land under the unauthorized occupation measuring 330 kanals and one marla land, have already been submitted to Defence Estates Officer, Northern Command Udhampur vide this office letter : DCP/LH/44-46, dated: 17-06-2008 for further proceedings. However, despite repeated requests / reminders nothing has been heard from his office till date," DC Poonch wrote to Principal Secretary Home just two days ago.

The Northern Railways have occupied 58 kanals and nine marlas of Wakf land in different areas of the State.

The State Hajj and Auqaf department took up the issue with the Railways earlier this year but to no avail.

Among the government departments, the State's Education department figures at the top as it has occupied 241 kanals and 17 marlas in different areas here to build schools and infrastructural facilitates for its officers.

The State Home department/ J&K Police has also illegally occupied 230 kanals and 17 marlas of land at MakhanpurGujjar,Jammu and KeliMandi, Samba.

Likewise, 166 kanals have been encroached upon by the Rural Development department, 65 kanals by the Health Department, 14 kanals by Public Health Engineering department, 7 kanals by the Public Works department, 39 kanals by Urban Development department and 25 kanals by Sericulture Department.

While JK government is repeatedly vowing to protect these properties, its Wakf Council headed by State Haj and Auqaf Minister has failed to retrieve these assets – which can be used for welfare and betterment of Muslim community in the region.

The incumbent Haj and Auqaf Minister AbdurRehmanVeeri also held out a similar assurance in the Legislative Council on March 20 this year. However, since then there has been little follow-up action.

The issue of illegal occupation of Wakf properties also came up for discussion during the meeting of Legislative Council's assurance committee on Tuesday.

"It is tragedy with the Muslims of Jammu that there properties have been grabbed by the forces and J&K Government. The question is not about economic value of the properties but of Muslim identity and heritage in the region," NC legislator ShenazGanie, who chaired the meeting of House panel, said.

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