UP Sunni Waqf Board chief Farooqui stirs the Ram Janmabhoomi pot

Even as the Uttar Pradesh Government, which has sought a CBI inquiry into corruption in the Shia and Sunni Waqf boards, plans to dissolve them, Farooqui, close to the BJP, sends out mixed signals

Photo courtesy: <a href="http://upsunniwaqfboard.org/">upsunniwaqfboard.org</a>
Photo courtesy: upsunniwaqfboard.org

Biswajeet Banerjee

Eyebrows were raised in Lucknow and elsewhere on Wednesday evening when a video statement by the Chairman Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board, Zafar Ahmad Farooqui, surfaced on social media. He was heard declaring that Lord Ram was indeed born in Ayodhya and that he or the Board had never denied this `fact’.

The statement, coming hours after the ‘fake news’ that Sunni Waqf Board had allegedly withdrawn from the appeal against Allahabad High Court’s verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case and that the Board had allegedly dropped its claim over the disputed 2.27 acres of land in Ayodhya. While the ‘fake news’ was denied by Farooqui and the lawyers engaged by the Board, the video added to the confusion.

“Farooqui sahib can do it. He wants to be close to the ruling dispensation. He called the shots during the Mayawati regime and when Akhilesh Yadav came to power he continued ruling the roost.  Even in the BJP regime, he managed to grab the position of the Chairman UP Waqf Board because he knows how the government works,”  a senior official in the UP Sunni Waqf Board said.

Sources claim that developments in the last few days might have pushed Farooqui to play to the ruling BJP’s tune. A few days back Yogi government recommended a CBI inquiry into the ‘irregular’ sale, purchase and transfer of Waqf land in the State. A letter requesting it was sent to the Department of Personnel and Training under the PMO and also to the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

The Uttar Pradesh Home Department have requested a probe into the sale, purchase, and transfer of the land by the Sunni Central Waqf Board and the Shia Central Waqf Board. Two FIRs lodged in Allahabad and Lucknow would be investigated by the CBI, the government spokesman said.

This decision came in the wake of a move by Uttar Pradesh government to form a “UP Muslim Waqf Board” by merging the separate Sunni and Shia Waqf boards to prevent “wastage of money”.

Minister of State for Waqf Mohsin Raza told this reporter that both Sunni and Shia Waqf boards are being charged with corruption, and the government will dissolve them soon.

“The government has got a number of letters and suggestions from various quarters regarding the merger of Sunni and Shia Waqf boards. After which, the government has sought a proposal in this regard from the department concerned,” he said.

Incidentally, in 1999 the then BJP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh had created separate Sunni and Shia Waqf Boards.

“The situation then was different. Now people associated with Waqf Boards are neck-deep in corruption. The time has come to clean Waqf of this mess,” the minister said.

Probably this corruption and alleged CBI probe have pushed Farooqui to dance to the tunes of BJP.

“Farooqui Sahib is a sift spoken and learned man who climbed the ladder of success when he came close to a BSP ML A in Laharapur in Sitapur district. First, he became Chairman Sunni Waqf Board when Mayawati was in power. When Akhilesh came to power he became close lieutenant of Azam Khan and was able to retain his position. By this time he learned the art of `how to oil government machinery ’ and managed his control even during Yogi raj,” said a senior journalist well versed with working in waqf boards.

“This decision of Sunni Waqf Board to drop claim on the disputed land has gladdened the hearts of B JP leadership and is again able to please ruling party,” he said.

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