Former Waqf Board chairman and BJP critic-turned-supporter booked
Waseem Rizvi, former chairman of the Shia Central Waqf Board who went from being a BJP critic to an avid supporter of the party’s leaders and policies after the change of guard in Uttar Pradesh, has been booked by the CBI for financial embezzlement and misappropriation of properties.
The Lucknow unit of the CBI on Thursday evening filed two FIRs against Waseem Rizvi; Ghulam Saydain Rizvi, former administrative officer of the waqf board; Waqar Raza, a former employee of the board; and businessmen Naresh Krishna Somani and Vinay Krishna Somani. The CBI’s case is based on two FIRs registered in 2016 and 2017 in Allahabad and Lucknow.
Waseem Rizvi had allegedly allowed illegal constructions at Imambara Ghulam Haider in the Tripolia area of Allahabad and another board property off GT Road. The government had stopped the work but constructions resumed without its knowledge after a few months.
An engineer in the public works department filed an FIR on August 26, 2016, under Indian Penal Code Sections 447 and 441, which deal with criminal trespass.
The second FIR was registered in Lucknow on March 27, 2017, accusing Waseem Rizvi and a few others of accepting a bribe of Rs 27 lakh to illegally hand over waqf land in Kanpur to the Somanis, Saydain Rizvi and Raza. Waseem Rizvi claimed that the cases were politically motivated and he would emerge unscathed.
“Whatever happened was done during the previous (Samajwadi Party) government without my knowledge. The inquiry will exonerate me,” he said on Friday.
A critic of the BJP and admirer of the Samajwadis before 2017, Waseem Rizvi had done a volte face overnight when Yogi Adityanath took over as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and handed over the case related to the waqf leader to the CBI.
Waseem Rizvi became a hardcore supporter of Hindutva, Ram temple, Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and a critic of madrasa education and Islamic customs. While he used to earlier avoid the media, he began attending TV debates frequently and openly admired everything that the BJP and the RSS propagated.
He also wrote and produced a Hindi film titled Ram Ki Janmabhoomi in 2019 to support the Ayodhya temple issue. The movie also spoke against several Islamic customs including nikah halala and instant triple talaq and supported the demolition of Babri Masjid.
Adityanath reopened the cases against Waseem Rizvi on the request of Mohsin Raza, the minister of state for minority affairs. Waseem Rizvi had earlier accused Mohsin Raza of selling waqf properties and suspended him from the post of caretaker of the revered Alia Begum Mosque in Unnao.