Despite taking up encroachment issue with Chief Minister ten times, nothing has materialized, rues Wakf board chairman
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Oct 5: The Congress has often loudly professed its commitment to the religious minority community, inviting allegations of minority appeasement. But when it comes to safeguarding Wakf properties, the Congress government in Assam has not only been found badly wanting, it has allegedly looked the other way as valuable properties were encroached upon.
Congress goons and corrupt government officials in cahoots with the land mafia, are usurping properties of the Assam Board of Wakfs, converting its land into business areas.
The Wakf board owns properties in around 15,850 bighas of land in the State and their value is said to be Rs 55,000 crore. Many of these are now under illegal occupation.
Board chairman Nekibur Zaman said that the properties should – under normal circumstances – yield a revenue of over Rs 7,000 crore per annum. However, it was in 2012 that the revenue crossed the shockingly paltry mark of Rs 1 lakh. In the last fiscal, the revenue collected from the properties was a meager Rs 6 lakh.
“It is clear from the statistics that there is something grossly wrong somewhere. In 1957, 962 properties were registered. No new property was registered thereafter till 2014-15, when 130 new properties were registered,” Zaman told a press conference here.
Pointing out two instances of encroachment in the city, Zaman said one Wakf board property in Fancy Bazar where there was a cinema hall, has been occupied by a Congressman who is now building a mall there. In another Wakf property at Fancy Bazar, the proprietor of Deb Bothers is building a mansion. Despite directions by the High Court, the Wakf board and the State government have failed to evict the encroachers. In fact, Zaman alleged that he has been facing threats from the encroachers for taking up the issue.
Zaman also did not rule out the possibility of a nexus between some Wakf board officials and the encroachers.
He said after taking charge as the chairman, he had taken up the matter with the Chief Minister at least ten times – the last one being on September 21. “Every time, the Chief Minister assured of an inquiry and prompt measures, but nothing has happened so far,” Zaman rued.
He felt there was a “powerful lobby” preventing the board and the government from taking action. “Now, they (the lobby) have even started a campaign against me in print and social media,” he said.
Appealing to the AASU, AJYCP and KMSS to take up cudgels to protect Wakf properties which belong to the indigenous people, Zaman dared the Chief Minister to announce an inquiry within ten days.
Earlier, the Assembly Speaker had formed a House committee to look into the issue of encroachment of wakf properties. The committee had submitted its report on March 31 last, but no action has been taken yet on the recommendations.
Zaman also alleged that the government is also yet to enforce the Wakf (Amendment) Act, 2013.