Three-and-a-half years after the tenure of the previous Karnataka State Wakf Board ended, the government is yet to constitute a new one, leading to an inordinate delay in tackling illegal encroachments of Wakf properties worth hundreds of crores.
The Karnataka State Board of Wakfs, a statutory body constituted under the Wakf Act 1995, monitors Islamic religious properties in the state including mosques, dargahs, idgahs, Muslim burial grounds and orphanages among others.
While the term of the previous board ended in 2016, elections were finally held, after a three-year delay, in February this year. However, the government failed to nominate five members to the 11-member board, without which it is not fully functional.
While the board at present has a chief executive officer (CEO) taking care of day-to-day administration, the board needs an 11-member team along with a chairman to be fully functional.
Sources told DH that the previous Congress-JD(S) government had finalised the list of government-nominated members to the board. With the new government taking oath, the previous nominations have taken a back seat.
As long as the board is not fully functional, encroachments go unfettered, according to representatives of the community. “Due to this delay, irregularities are taking place. Once the board is in place, we hope action is taken against encroachments,” Sufi Wali Ba Khadri, who heads the Chamarajpet Dargah and the Akhila Karnataka Sufi Santara Sangha, said.
Retired bureaucrat and a former Wakf Board member Ismath Ulla Khan explained that a fully functional board was essential to take policy-level decisions concerning Wakf properties.
Recently, a delegation of Sufi saints and heads of various dargahs met Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, urging the government to take action against encroachments and constitute the board at the earliest.
The sangha also has demanded that the government implement the Anwar Manippady report (2012), which details the various encroachments of Wakf properties.
Latest data show there are 103 active cases of encroachment of Wakf properties apart from 21,586 properties for which khatas are not finalised. However, members of the community alleged that this was a gross underestimation.
Speaking to DH, Minority Welfare and Wakf Minister Prabhu Chauhan said the government would ensure the constitution of the committee within 10 days.