| The land given by Pataudi. Picture by Prakash Hatvalne Rasheed Kidwai
Bhopal, July 27: Land is triggering trouble elsewhere, but in Bhopal the gift of a prime plot by Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi might have solved a huge problem.
Almost 60 years after his grandfather’s rule ended — and the same number of years since the last Nawab of Bhopal bought prime property in Mecca and Medina to build lodges where pilgrims from the state stay free of cost to this day — Pataudi has offered nine acres for the construction of a Haj House.
The land, worth around Rs 50 crore, belongs to the Auqaf-e-Shahi — the royal trust that owns wakf properties worth Rs 250 crore. Pataudi heads the religious trust.
Anwar Mohammad Khan, the secretary of Auqaf-e-Shahi, said Pataudi called him from London instructing him to make the offer.
“I have conveyed Nawab saheb’s offer and feelings to the chief minister, wakf board chief and other concerned authorities. Nawab saheb wishes that if possible, the Haj House should also serve as a centre of advanced Islamic studies,” he said.
The gesture comes as a big relief for the BJP-run Madhya Pradesh government and the local Muslim community who have been at loggerheads over the construction of a Haj House — a multi-utility building that provides accommodation to pilgrims during the annual Haj season.
It usually has on the premises a mosque, a bank and an ATM and offers food, vaccination, religious instructions and other facilities to the pilgrims who often come from remote villages and lack basic awareness about foreign travel.
While most state capitals and New Delhi have sprawling Haj Houses, Bhopal does not have one.
This year, there were over 10,000 applicants for Haj, to be performed in Mecca and Medina in December. The local authorities had to hire a marriage hall to scrutinise applications and draw lots as Madhya Pradesh can send only 4,000-odd Hajis. Every state has a quota.
Syed Mujahid Hussain Zaidi, CEO of the Madhya Pradesh Wakf Board, sounded happy about the offer of land.
“Yes, I have received a letter from Auqaf-e-Shahi. I have checked and the property is freehold and undisputed. Pataudi has solved a major problem,” he told The Telegraph.
Construction of a Haj House in Bhopal has been a contentious issue for almost a decade. In 1998, then chief minister Digvijay Singh had laid the foundation stone for one but some Muslim groups moved court saying the location was not right.
Subsequently, several proposals were made but Muslim organisations vetoed them on the grounds that the Haj House should not be far from downtown. The government was offering land on the city’s outskirts.
Recently, a parliamentary standing committee delegation visited Bhopal and took up the matter with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who promised help but expressed his inability to provide suitable land in the crowded city.
Bada Bagh — the property Pataudi has offered — is located in the heart of Bhopal. A bus stand is less than 100 metres and the railway station is in close vicinity. Bhopal does not have flights to Jeddah, so most pilgrims go via Mumbai or Delhi.
Shafqat Mohammad Khan, an educator and cricket administrator, complimented Pataudi for continuing grandfather Nawab Hamidullah Khan’s legacy.
In 1948, before his rule ended, the last Nawab of Bhopal had bought property in Mecca and Medina, built palatial rubat (guesthouses) close to the holy shrines and donated these to Hajis. To date, most Hajis from Bhopal stay free of cost in these two buildings, which can accommodate 300.