BJP targets Congress on Wakf land issue in Karnataka

The report named several Congress leaders including Mallikarjuna Kharge and ex-CM Dharam Singh

Wakf Board
Wakf properties are religious endowments by erstwhile kings and zamindars for the welfare of the society | File Photo

The BJP government in Karnataka on Wednesday (September 23) tabled in the Assembly a “controversial” 2012 report on encroachment of Wakf (Waqf) properties across the state.

Even as the ruling BJP government came under attack from Congress members in the state Assembly over alleged corruption charges in the procurement of COVID-19 related medical equipment and in management of the pandemic, the government turned the action against them by tabling the eight-year-old report that incriminated several senior Congress leaders over the mismanagement of Wakf properties.

The 7,500-page report, which was prepared by BJP spokesperson Anwar Manippady from Mangaluru when he was chairman of the minorities commission during the party’s previous regime, highlighted gross encroachment of Wakf properties.

The report named several senior Congress leaders, including Mallikarjuna Kharge, MLA NA Haris, former ministers Tanveer Sait and Roshan Baig, former Rajya Sabha member Rehman Khan, MLC CM Ibrahim and others. Late chief minister Dharam Singh and late former Union minister C K Jaffer Sharief were also named in the report.

Related news: Politicians across party lines flout norms in Karnataka, fall prey to COVID

The report said they were hand in glove with several IAS and IPS officers from the minority community who helped them with the scam.

While the Minorities Commission asked the Siddaramaiah government multiple times to look into to report, the Congress dispensation rejected it outright saying it’s a politically motivated report. His government even ignored the irregularities pointed out by the Lokayukta in 2016.

The state did not even nominate members, as mandated by the law, for nearly three years.

Manipaddy, who thanked some of the RSS leaders, including BL Santhosh, for pushing the state government to table the report, in a Facebook video said that the irregularities were to the tune of ₹2.3 lakh crore, even bigger than the 2G scam.

In 2019, a delegation of Muslim clerics and heads of various dargahs met Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and urged him to act on the encroachments.

What is Wakf property?
  • Wakf properties are religious endowments by erstwhile kings and zamindars for the welfare of the society. Such properties are not owned by the central or state governments or any individual. They are managed by Mutawallis (custodians) and Wakf institutions
  • The State Board of Wakfs is a statutory body constituted under the Wakf Act, 1995 which monitors Islamic religious properties in the state. It includes mosques, dargahs, idgahs, Muslim burial grounds and orphanages among others
  • As per provisions of Section 32 of the Wakf Act, 1995, as amended, the general superintendence of all Wakf properties are vested with the State Wakf Board. They are empowered to manage the Wakf property and even take legal action against unauthorised occupation and encroachment

According to a report in Deccan Herald, as of 2018, of the total 41,377 Wakf properties in the state, there were 1,226 cases of encroachments, 300 of which were in Bengaluru.

However, to a question in the Lok Sabha in 2019, the Minorities Affair Ministry noted that only 862 Wakf properties in the state were encroached upon by private organisations and individuals. And most of them were in a legal battle.

The annual income from the statutory contribution collected by State Wakf Boards in India for the financial year 2017-18 stood at ₹36.23 crore, as per the Central Wakf Council.

The encroachment is not restricted to Karnataka alone. According to the Centre’s report, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu topped the list with the number of properties encroached.

A Muslim leader, who is part of the current board in Karnataka, said that if and when the properties become encroachment-free, they can be used for the welfare of Muslims and to empower them in a socio-economic manner.

Congress alleges vendetta politics

Congress maintained its stand on the issue, terming the report one-sided that targeted tall leaders of the party.

Leader BL Shankar dismissed the report, calling it vendetta of one man against one political party’s leaders. He had earlier said that as chairman of minorities commission, Manippady conducted suo-motu raids and did not furnish enough evidence against the accused.

“Manippady’s claims are exaggerated. The accused should be given a chance to speak and it should withstand in the court of law. Why is only one party being targetted,” asked the Congress leader. “It shows their political agenda.”

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