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House panel mooted to probe Wakf assets

- Assam Speaker order after MLA prod

Guwahati, Dec. 19: Assam Assembly Speaker Pranab Gogoi today ordered formation of a House committee to probe alleged anomalies in maintaining Wakf assets in the state.

The Speaker’s order came after AIUDF legislator Sherman Ali Ahmed raised the issue during the Question Hour of the ongoing winter session of the Assembly this morning. He alleged that the Assam Board of Wakfs, which was constituted for proper maintenance of such assets, has failed to do its job.

The Speaker while responding to Ahmed said the matter of proper maintenance of Wakf properties must be taken seriously. He said a House committee would be constituted to look into the present status of Wakf assets in the state and stop alleged anomalies in maintaining such assets.

Wakf is a permanent dedication of movable or immovable properties for religious, pious or charitable purposes as recognised by Muslim law, given by philanthropists in different states of India. The grant is known as mushrut-ul-khidmat, while a person making such dedication is known as Wakif.

Ahmed claimed that though Assam has 14,709 Wakf properties, only 179 such assets have been registered under the Wakf Act 1995. He said the total worth of the registered Wakf assets is Rs 50,000 crore.

“According to a conservative estimate, the returns of the registered Wakf properties should be Rs 10,000 crore per annum and the Assam Wakf Board should have been able to earn Rs 1,000 crore as income from such assets. But I was shocked and astonished to find that the total return from Wakfs in the state was only Rs 56,122 for the financial year 2011-12. The figures of income from Wakf properties for the last two financial years are still not available,” Ahmed told reporters outside the House.

Ahmed said the Wakf properties in Guwahati include 14 bighas of land at Fancy Bazar, 30 bighas at Panbazar and Ulubari and four kathas at Rehabari.

“Most of the land in Fancy Bazar and other prime areas in the city has been under the unauthorised occupation of some businessmen and individuals because of lack of effective monitoring mechanism by the Assam Wakf Board. Several leading commercial establishments in Fancy Bazar have been set up on Wakf lands and they are paying a meagre amount as monthly rent,” Ahmed said.

In other parts of the country, Wakf assets have led to the setting up of educational institutions, including universities.

“But here in Assam, this seems an impossibility. I hope that the proposed House committee would take up the matter very seriously and find out ways to generate substantial income from Wakf assets and use the same for charitable work,” Ahmed said.