Andhra government returns land to Wakf Board

February 11th, 2009 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Feb 11 (IANS) In a move to woo the Muslim community before the ensuing elections, the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh Wednesday returned 50 acres of prime land on the city outskirts to the state Wakf Board.
Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy handed over papers of the land worth Rs.3 billion to Wakf Board officials in the presence of prominent Muslim leaders. He also promised to return the remaining 50 acres of land soon.

The 100 acres of land in Pahadi Shareef Dargah in Mamidipally village in Ranga Reddy district on the city outskirts had become a bone of contention between the Wakf Board and the revenue authorities.

The state government had allotted the land to the state housing board in 2007 evoking strong protest from Muslims. The revenue department had claimed that it was a government land.

The move to return the land is unprecedented and is seen as an attempt by the ruling Congress party to woo the community ahead of the assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

The state government had come under criticism from the community for encroaching the Wakf land worth billions of rupees in and around Hyderabad and elsewhere in the state.

Prime Wakf land was allotted to several multinational IT companies, infrastructure and real estate firms and institutions on the outskirts of the state capital.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Wakf land had last year found that of 145,511 acres of Wakf land in the state, nearly 83,000 acres were encroached. It found government as the encroacher in many cases.

Of 1,600 acre prime Wakf land in Manikonda here, 829.35 acres were encroached by the government, which sold the same to Polaris, Infosys, MR Hills, Lanco Hills, Microsoft, Maulana Azad National Urdu University (Manuu) and Indian School of Business.

Muslim leaders feel that if Wakf properties were recovered, developed well and put to economic use, they could foot the bill for the educational needs of the community.

According to the Wakf Act 1995, “Wakf means permanent dedication by a person professing Islam of any movable or immovable property for any purpose recognised by the Muslim law as pious, religious and charitable.”

A Wakf board is a quasi-judicial body administering the Wakf properties and is empowered to rule over Wakf-related disputes.

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