Najmi Waziri, an authority on Awqaf, has said that there was an immense potential if Muslims were able to recover, manage and control their Awqaf. He said that based on the data provided by the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS), Sachar Committee has too asked to recover and manage properly the Waqf properties. In his view, there was no proper use of Waqf properties as there was no plan to develop the properties before the Waqf Boards. So, there was a dire need to appoint development advisors to develop the Waqf properties.
Waziri, also standing counsel for Delhi Waqf Board and central government pleader in Delhi High Court, was delivering a lecture on “Management of Awqaf in India and its Implications for Development in the Light of Sachar Committee Findings and Recommendations” here at the IOS headquarters on January 14.
In this connection, the eminent lawyer put a number of questions before the august meeting, participated by scholars, academics, lawyers, media-persons and social activists. He asked as to why Waqf properties were found today in a pitiable state? Why Muslims did not demand Waqf properties excluded from Theka Act? Why a large number of Waqf properties were not notified? He held the internal mismanagement responsible for this all.
Dwelling in detail the history of Awqaf in India, particularly Delhi and Waqf laws from 1913 till date, Waziri said before Independence the case was quite different. Actual problem arose after Independence, he emphasised. Going into the background, he said the Awqaf faced first casualty at the hands of the British during the so-called “Sepoy Mutiny”, now known as the first War of Independence. He said the historic Jama Masjid was closed for a number of days in October- November, 1857, and Sikh Regiments were deployed there. Besides Masjid Akbarabadi, a number of mosques, graveyards and other shrines were demolished and habitations removed from the Jama Masjid area.
According to him, an important development that occurred then was takeover of land in front of Jama Masjid. “This trend too got roots in other parts of the country,” he alleged.
In his view, there was no restriction upon creation of a Waqf by a non-Muslim. Any body, irrespective of his faith, could donate land and create a waqf, he opined.
Referring to the role of survey commissioners, he said they were appointed by the state and had no time and staff to pay due attention to the Waqf properties.
Dr Z M Khan, Secretary General, IOS, said democracy did not create messiahs, but it certainly helped a pressure group to emerge and play an effective role in the solution of such and other problems of a community. Mushtaq Ahmed Alig was of the view that mismanagement, no doubt, existed but it could be tackled and the Waqf properties retrieved.
Agreeing with the proposal of Dr Ishteyaque Ahmad of Jamia Millia Islamia, Dr Manzoor Alam, Chairman, IOS, announced the constitution of a committee to study the Waqf properties in Delhi.
Dr Alam, who is also an economist, said that a number of lectures and other programmes were being held prior to a thought-provoking seminar on the “Socio-Economic Deprivation of Muslims: Search for Action and Strategy” on January 20, 2007 at the India Islamic Culture Centre (IICC), and today’s lecture by Najmi Waziri was one of them. To be participated by about a hundred thinking persons and experts on the issues of Muslims, the seminar would ponder over the implementation aspect of the recommendations made by the Sachar Committee, and emerge as a pressure group, he informed.