PUNE: This city of Peshwas has a large number of “Waqf land” but 80 % of these Waqf properties are under illegal occupation, or they have been encroached upon. Pune also has a stellar example of freedom of Waqf land from illegal occupiers and encroachers.
Azam Campus and Deccan Muslim Education society’s campus were liberated from illegal encroachments. Now these land hold minority education institutions within. But, a lot more has to be done in this city, where free hold land is becoming costly as well as scarce.
Two years ago, a newspaper report said that there are 2728 waqf properties in Pune. But some sources said that proper survey of Waqf land is necessary as it may reach far more than that in number.
The most tragic part of this news report was the fact that 80 % of waqf land was encroached upon by illegal occupants. Locals express sorrow that no efforts have been made during the last two years, to liberate Waqf land from encroachments .
As many as 2,728 Waqf properties worth over Rs 1,000 crore in Pune will be impacted by the landmark Bombay High Court ruling which set aside two circulars of the Maharashtra Government constituting the Waqf Board under the Waqf Act and notification of properties covered by Waqf.
The small and big Muslim public trusts would now be governed under the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950. Pune has 2,728 Waqf properties on 3,724.55 hectare land located in prime areas including Deccan Gymkhana, Kondhwa, Baner and Aundh which are illegally occupied and under litigation. In Deccan, Waqf land is on 80 acres spread from More Vidyalaya to the ILS Law College. Some areas on Karve road are also Waqf properties.
About 23 acres in Aundh and Pimple Nilakh have been encroached upon. According to the Waqf board’s estimates, not much has been done to safeguard the land in Pune, of which 80 % is encroached on. “The Waqf board had started a regional office in Pune to remove the encroachments by builders, politicians and some influential community members,” a board official, requesting anonymity, said.
The Waqf property controversy has its roots in 1997-98 when Maharashtra appointed a survey commissioner to list Waqf properties in the state. Petitions challenging the transfer of trust properties to the Waqf Board filed before other HC benches in the state were clubbed together in 2007 and shifted to Mumbai.
Following the controversy, in 2003 the Centre appointed a joint parliamentary committee to study irregularities of the survey and transfer of Wakf properties all over India. The JPC in its final report in 2008 said the Maharashtra survey was irregular and illegal. In October 2010, the state acknowledged the JPC report and ordered a fresh survey.
The HC noted since the state had accepted the survey was invalid, Muslim trusts must continue to be governed as public trusts.
“Thousands of Muslims in this city are struggling. The Wakf properties could be used to help them. However, the controversy over the properties, encroachments and court cases seems unending. Muslims who have donated their properties for the community would feel betrayed,” said college student Javed Sheikh.