Kolkata: Nearly 4 per cent (3.82 per cent) of Waqf Board properties in West Bengal are under encroachment, as per the records of the state minorities development department.
A state government official, on condition of anonymity, said that in terms of the number of encroached Waqf Board properties, West Bengal is placed third among all Indian states at 3,082, after Punjab (5,610) and Madhya Pradesh (3,240).
"But if you look at it from the point of view of percentage of the total property, the encroached property is much lower at just 3.82 per cent, considering that West Bengal accounts for a total of 80,480 Waqf Board properties, the second highest after Uttar Pradesh at 1,66,855," the official pointed out.
However, he admitted that in terms of percentage of Waqf Board properties under encroachment, West Bengal's figures are marginally higher than the national average of little less than 3 per cent.
According to the official, most of these encroachments are on account of illegal shanties set up by displaced people. However, he was unable to give any detailed district-wise break-up of the encroached Waqf Board properties. He also admitted that no GPS survey on this count has been conducted in the state.
According to the General Secretary of All India Minorities Youth Federation, Mohammad Kamruzzaman, who had long been vocal against encroachment of Waqf Board properties, the maximum encroachment has been seen in Kolkata and its adjacent districts like South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas as well as the minority-dominated districts in Murshidabad and Malda.
"As far as my knowledge goes, the maximum encroachment of Waqf Board properties is in Murshidabad district, which accounts for nearly one-third of the encroached properties. The rate of encroachment has increased in the last 10 to 12 years", Kamruzzaman added.
"We have been repeatedly alerting the government to take action and return the encroached property to the Waqf Board. However, no positive action has been taken by the state government on this count so far," he said.
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