Wednesday, September 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

J&K Govt takes over Muslim Auqaf Trust
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, September 9
The coalition government has wrested control of all assets of the Muslim Auqaf Trust that looks after 89 shrines in Jammu and Kashmir and has constituted a body to look after the affairs of these assets and properties.

Disclosing this here today, the Finance, Planning and Law Minister, Mr Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, said some immediate measures had been taken in this direction. He said the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, would be the exofficio chairman of the new Wakf Board, while there would be 11 members in the board and a Board of Directors headed by a Chief Executive Officer and two directors.

“As an immediate measure, the sale and transfer of all movable and immovable assets of the Wakf properties have been banned and transactions with banks, financial institutions put on hold”, Mr Beigh said. He added that such transactions shall not be operative except with the approval of the competent authority under the new dispensation in accordance with the provisions of the ordinance”.

These orders have been issued in accordance with the Jammu and Kashmir Specified Wakfs and Specified Wakf Properties (Management and Regulation) Ordinance, 2003. Mr Beigh said the constitution of the 11-member board would be completed within six months. A management body, headed by a Chief Executive Officer, with two directors had been constituted.

Mr Nayeem Akhtar, Special Secretary to the Chief Minister, had been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Beigh announced. He added that the two directors of the management board would be Mr Parvez Iqbal Khateeb and Mr Iftikhar Ahmad.

There are 89 shrines and 39 properties under the Muslim Auqaf Trust.

The National Conference patron, Dr Farooq Abdullah, took over as the life-long Chairman of the Trust after his father, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. Mr Beigh said the NC President, Mr Omar Abdullah, had approached the government for not taking over the affairs of the Trust.

The new body aims at utilising donations made at various shrines and substantial income accruing from Wakf properties in the fields of education, health and the upkeep of religious places, the minister said. “There is also a need to regulate the conduct of persons serving in various dargahs so that better services to pilgrims are ensured and society as a whole is benefited”, he said. Referring to the pattern of the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, the minister said it worked well and attracted more pilgrims, which also gave a fillip to pilgrim tourism in the Jammu region. He said it was obligatory to make the accounts public as part of its transparent policy. There would also be an audit of the accounts of the past 20 years, Mr Beigh announced.

The Chief Minister would start visiting shrines from tomorrow and announce measures for making these attractive for pilgrims.

The board, having the Chief Minister as its ex officio Chairman, would be constituted within six months, the ordinance states. In case of a non-Muslim Chief Minister, he may appoint an eminent Muslim from the Council of Ministers as the Chairman. The other members would include three persons with distinguished services to Islam in the state, three persons with distinguished services in administrative, legal or financial affairs and three others with distinguished services in health, education and social service. There would also be a woman member having distinguished services in the social sphere, particularly in the empowerment of women in the state.


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