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New Delhi: In an apparent bid to reach out to the minorities, BJP President Nitin Gadkari today wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding that his government take steps to deal with encroachments on Wakf properties.
"It is my request to you to take effective steps to free all Wakf properties which have been encroached across the country so that these can be used for welfare measures which the Muslim community needs today," Gadkari said in his letter.
He further stated that he has directed BJP-ruled states to take the needed steps in this direction at the earliest and hoped that the Central government would do so too.
Gadkari's letter to the PM is being seen as a move to strengthen the party's minority base, especially after his statement after taking charge of the party's affairs in December that he wanted to increase the party votebank by 10 per cent and the minorities formed a major target group in this task.
Gadkari pointed out that there were 600,000 acres of land and 500,000 registered properties under Waqf administration in the country.
He added, 50 years back, the cost of Wakf properties was estimated to be around Rs 5,000 crore.
"Sachar Committee has estimated these properties to be worth Rs 1.20 lakh crore now," Gadkari said in the letter.
The BJP President pointed out that if freed, these properties or the money derived from sale of any of them can be used to finance education of students from the minority community, building community centres and lodges, maintaining dargahs and cemetries, providing funds for widows, and other benefits.
Giving a suggestion, Gadkari said these properties should be exempt from the Rent Control Act so that they become more profitable.
Gadkari further said that the Waqf funds should also be used for welfare activities, like setting up orphanages and financing the marriages of poor girls of the community.
The BJP chief said in his letter that "some pseudo-secularists who claim to be the well-wishers of Muslims and other elements" had failed in protecting Waqf properties.
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