Two Maharashtra MLAs demand probe into waqf land ‘scam’

Mumbai, March 7 (IANS) A portion of the land parcel gifted by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to a mosque in Nashik district has been declared ‘non-Wakf’ property allegedly to benefit a Pune-based realtor, two opposition leaders said in the Maharashtra assembly on Tuesday.

Describing it as a Rs 2,500-crore scam, senior Congress leader and former minister Naseem Khan and Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi demanded a high-level judicial probe.

Last month, the then CEO of Aurangabad-based Maharashtra State Board of Wakf (MSBW), Naseeba Bano Patel, was suspended by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. She is accused of misusing her powers while holding additional charge as CEO of the MSBW since 2015. The government also ordered a probe into the matter.

“The state government speaks of transparency, but a scam happens right under their nose and they do not come to know,” Khan said, demanding a probe by a Bombay High Court judge.

Khan said the land originally belonged to Emperor Shah Jahan, known the world over for the construction of the Taj Mahal in Agra, one of the seven wonders of the world.

He had donated 85 acres to Masjid Doodhadari Katra at Borwadi in Nashik, of which now 55 acres has been designated as ‘non-Wakf land’.

Khan said that a realtor-developer based in Pune had claimed ownership of the Wakf property last year.

When the Supreme Court asked the CEO to conduct a hearing, she allegedly filed an affidavit contending she had no right to do so.

The Wakf lawyer sought more time and later the property was allegedly described as a ‘non-Wakf land’.

Khan alleged that a mega-township project is coming up on 700-acre land adjacent to the mosque, and the 55-acre Wakf land was converted to ‘non-Wakf land’ to benefit the builder.

The government has the property records right from the times of Emperor Shah Jahan along with his royal seal, the renewal of the lease during the Maratha rule as well as the 1927 British government gazettes certifying the property’s antecedents.