state of Wakf lands-Outlook
terms wakf misuse as the biggest land scam in Indian history:
A vast majority of people in the country believe that if the Wakf
properties - donated by Muslim rulers and individuals .....
The Maharashtra minorities ministry has reclaimed 120 acres of waqf
land in Junnar, near Nashik, from the Chougules of the Chateau
According to minorities minister Mohammed Arif Naseem
Khan, the land was illegally held by the Chougules for over a
“This 120 acres originally belonged to the Waqf
Board. The board had made repeated complaints that the land was
being used illegally by the Chougules to raise vineyards and export
wine,” said Khan.
Waqf Board CEO SS Qadri said a board trustee had
leased the Junnar land to the Chougules. But even after the lease
ended, they declined to move out. The trustee failed to issue
The action to reclaim the land came at the behest of
other trustees. “We had received repeated requests from the other
trustees to take prompt action. Since October 2008, the Waqf Board
CEO has had the rights to issue eviction orders, which I did. Yes,
we have now taken back this land,” confirmed Qadri.
Managing director, Champagne Indage Ltd, Ranjit
Choughule, meanwhile, said that he would speak on the matter only on
The Waqf Board estimates that the Junnar land is
worth around Rs 10 lakh an acre. The total value of the land
reclaimed could thus be around Rs 10-12 crore.
Qadri said the eviction was possible because of help
from the police.
“The Waqf Board needs support from the revenue
department and the police. In the case of Junnar, the police
supported us in taking prompt action. However, in many other cases,
even if I issue orders, the police either delay or do not take
action,” alleged Qadri.
The board has 92,000 acres of land in Maharashtra, of
which 57,000 acres is in Aurangabad itself. Wakf properties are
normally used to build schools, madrassas, masjids and even houses
for poor Muslims.
The land is often maintained by local managers called
mutawallis. Problems arise if these managers fail to recover leased
land when they the leases end or if the property is sold illegally.
“The mutawallis in many cases do not maintain records
properly. In many cases they have sold our lands directly. According
to the Waqf Board Act, the manager has to inform board members and
then take sanction for leases. In the case of Junnar, the local
manager and one trustee had directly done the deal,” said Rauf
Shaikh, a former Waqf Board CEO.
As a result of mismanagement, over 60% of the lands
are in illegal custody. The minister said the board woke up to these
problems when it discovered that Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani had
bought a plot in Mumbai’s prime locality of Carmichael Road which
was formerly wakf property.
There are currently at least 7,000 wakf cases pending
in courts across the state. Only 5% of the disputed lands have been
restored to the Waqf Board.
The board and the minorities ministry have now drawn
up plans to categorise and resolve these cases.
“The first priority is to protect lands that are not
disputed. We are taking control of these lands and protecting them
with fences and Waqf Board nameplates. The second category comprises
disputed lands for which we will form a panel of lawyers to expedite
cases and take them through fast-track courts. And lastly there is
the renewal of land leases on the basis of the new rental law,” said