Maharashtra Waqf Board demands SIT to probe nexus between govt officials and lands sharks in waqf scams

Maharashtra Waqf Board has requested Maharashtra government to constitute a Special Investigation Team to probe the large scale misappropriation of waqf properties in the state of Maharashtra

Maharashtra Waqf Board demands SIT to probe nexus between govt officials and lands sharks in waqf scams

Nadeem Inamdar

The Maharashtra Waqf Board which administers over a lakh acres of land estimated to be worth over Rs 2 lakh crores in Maharashtra, has requested the Maharashtra government to constitute a Special Investigation Team to probe large scale misappropriation and loot of waqf properties in the state of Maharashtra. Waqf Board chairman Dr Wajahat Mirza in a letter addressed to Principal Secretary ( Special ) Jan 28 entitled ‘to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to enquire into Waqf scam running into hundreds of crores of rupees by forging NOCs’ pointed out the urgency for instituting a high level investigation into the scam to nab the culprits. A special board meeting was held in Mumbai to chalk out a detailed plan to prevent further loss of waqf land to landsharks across Maharashtra.

The letter stated “We the members of Maharashtra Waqf board do hereby request you to initiate a high level enquiry by constituting a Special Investigation team to enquire into various cases involving illegal sale and purchases of Waqf lands by using bogus or forged NOCs claimed to have been issued by the Waqf board. Many other illegal means adopted to usurp Waqf lands should also be investigated. In the last six months 14 FIRs across Maharashtra have been registered in different police stations whereby fraudulently the Waqf lands have exchanged hands.”

The letter further stated that board members strongly believe that if investigated thoroughly a strong criminal nexus could be exposed involving officials from different government departments who in connivance with land sharks have indulged in all illegal means to gobble up prime Waqf lands. "Since the magnitude of the scam is huge and because we have strong belief that many more bogus NOCs allegedly issued from Maharashtra waqf board are in circulation, it would be apt to get the matter investigated by a special team under the guidance of Principal Secretary", the letter added.

A number of Pune Waqf lands have been under the scanner of several state and central agencies including the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The ED officials for the first time in the state history questioned all the accused in Tabut Inam Endowment Trust waqf land fraud case in Hinjewadi. Deputy Collector (Land Acquisition) Ajay Pawar attached to Pune District Collectorate has been grilled by the central agency in connection with the Rs 9.64 crore waqf land scam. The ED also had raided the residence of Zarip Khan who, according to the police and investigating agencies, is the mastermind of the Hinjewadi waqf fraud case.

Khan’s bail has been rejected by a Pune court while the anticipatory bail applications of Sahil Munna Khan, Rehana Ishraque Khan and Uzair Ishraque Khan were rejected by Pune court recently. According to the FIR, Taboot Inam Endowment Trust, which is registered with the Waqf board, owns 8 hectares 57.1 R land at Gat no. 335/1 in Maan village in Mulshi taluka of Pune district. The state government acquired 5 hectares 51 R land out of the total land for the Rajiv Gandhi IT Park. The government was supposed to give around ₹9.64 crore to the trust in return and accordingly the government had released an amount of ₹7.73 crore. The amount was siphoned off by the accused who prepared bogus documents and resorted to cheating the government.

According to waqf board officials, Pune has nearly 2800 Waqf properties on 3,724.55 hectares of land located in prime areas like Deccan Gymkhana, Kondhwa, Baner and Aundh estimated to be over Rs 30,000 crores which have been illegally grabbed and under litigation . According to the waqf board officials at Pune, the issue related to a 50 acre waqf land belonging to a Mughal era mosque in Kondhwa Budruk, 80 acres spread from More Vidyalaya to the ILS Law College in Deccan including waqf land parcels Karve , 23 acres of waqf land Aundh and Pimple Nilakh are also being dealt with utmost priority.

Waqf activists have demanded action against the Waqf Board members who served between 2011 to 2013 wherein they have been accused of issuing fraudulent No Objection Certificates (NOC)’s to land sharks aiding them in selling off waqf properties.

In Oct last year, the Beed Police had arrested additional collector N R Shelke for selling over 1000 acres of Waqf Land. An FIR has been registered against 15 persons, including officials of the revenue department, for illegal sale of 409 acres and five guntha (each guntha being equal to 0.025 acre) of Waqf land in Maharashtra’s Beed district by creating forged documents as well as government stamp and seals, police said on Wednesday. In December 2021, an FIR under IPC sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471, 34 and section 52 (A) of Waqf Rules at Shivajinagar police station Beed based on the complaint of the district Waqf officer on December 29. According to the FIR, the accused prepared forged documents, stamps and seals of the government officers and illegally sold 409 acre and 5 guntha land from a parcel of 796 acres and 37. The prominent accused include the then deputy collector, revenue clerks , talathis, tehsildars and officials of revenue and land records department. Currently, the waqf land scam of Magdoom Bibi Waqf Trust Panel where a bogus NOC was issued is under investigation by police authorities.

Dr Mirza said “There is a need to investigate the deep rooted nexus between waqf land criminals and government officials and taking the ramifications of the scams in the state, the SIT is the best option to bring an end to this menace of corruption and forgery,” he said.

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