The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Not vendetta, says Mufti

Srinagar, Sept. 10: The Jammu and Kashmir chief minister today dismissed accusations that the takeover of the Muslim Auqaf Trust was guided by political vendetta against the National Conference and the Abdullahs.

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed visited Hazratbal, the holiest Muslim shrine in Kashmir, this morning for the first time in his capacity as chairman of the waqf board. “There is no question of my government resorting to vindictiveness or animosity by constituting a waqf board to take over shrines and assets earlier managed by the trust,” he said.

On Monday, the government had armed itself with an ordinance to take over the trust, headed by Farooq Abdullah, which was in charge of 89 shrines and 39 properties.

Mufti said the step was aimed at “institutionalising the decades-old arrangement for the upkeep of shrines and assets and its utilisation for the welfare of deserving members of the Muslim Ummah”.

The chief minister clarified that the shrines and related properties had not been taken over by the government. The waqf board would function as an independent constitutional authority with eminent Muslims as its members. “They will all be well-meaning persons who have the good of the community at heart.”

The government, Mufti stressed, would have no control over the board. He rejected the insinuations by National Conference leaders that vendetta against the Abdullahs was the reason for promulgating the ordinance.

Mufti said he had no personal enmity with anyone. “Sheikh Abdullah’s role cannot be wiped out from the pages of history but the trust that he had established belongs to the entire Muslim community of Kashmir,” he said.

Referring to the alleged mismanagement of the trust, Mufti said: “It did not come up to the expectations of the people.”

“Certain individuals, for their own benefit, exploited the trust and the donations collected by it were spent at wrong places,” he said.

Relatives of the trust’s functionaries, not deserving community members, had benefited from interest-free loans advanced by the trust, the chief minister alleged. This was an exploitation of people’s faith, he said. “Poor women donate their ornaments to the trust and we cannot spend this precious wealth on personal enjoyment,” Mufti said.

“The resources have to be spent in the right manner and at the right place. The affairs of the newly-constituted board will be conducted in a transparent manner and the accounts properly audited and made public.”

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