Wakf Board fines officers for demolishing complex

Wakf Board fines officers for demolishing complex

The commercial complex adjacent to the historical Bukhari Masjid in Bijapur, which was demolished in the encroachment clearance drive in 2007.  dh photo

The officers being fined are the previous deputy commissioner Mohammed Mohsin, who was also  administrator of the District Wakf Consultative Committee, and Wakf Officer Mohammed Mehtab.

However, reacting to the Wakf Board’s direction, Mohammed Mohsin, who is currently managing director of the Karnataka State Handloom Development Corporation, stated that the district administration is not at fault as it had removed only the encroached portion of the commercial complex. The Wakf Board, at the time of advancing loan to build the commercial complex, should have checked the land records.

“The illegal buildings were razed in 2007 and the district administration is not responsible for the damages. The State Wakf Board has taken an unilateral decision without holding an inquiry”, he noted.

A portion of the complex was razed on January 6, 2007 by the district administration. The operation was jointly conducted by the City Municipal Council, Urban Development Authority and district administration. They had removed several buildings,  including a few places of worship. A commercial complex was constructed adjacent to Bukhari Masjid, one of the Centrally Protected Monuments, by borrowing Rs 20 lakh from the Wakf Board.

“A decision to recover Rs 20 lakh as well as income from the date of demolition till date was taken at a meeting held in the presence of Minister for Wakf and Minorities Welfare on December 9, 2010, as per Section 49 of Wakf Act, 1995”, stated a letter from the chief executive officer of the State Wakf Board to the Deputy Commissioner of Bijapur.

Heritage activist H G Daddi and others have said that the commercial complex, which was partially demolished in the encroachment clearance drive when Mohammed Mohsin was deputy commissioner, is constructed on the land protected by the Indian Ancient Monuments Act and belongs to the Archaeological Survey of India. Therefore, the district administration took a right decision by demolishing the complex which had been illegally constructed on the government land.

They said that the area surrounded by any Centrally Protected Monument is prohibited and restricted area. As per laws, no construction should come up in that area. But allowing the complex to come up there and Wakf Board giving loan for construction of such a complex itself was wrong. Therefore, compensating the loss by the officials involved in the demolition drive is unlawful.

They have appealed to the government to withdraw their decision (compensating the loss from the officials).

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