“Taking constructive criticism from others is required to get to the next level”
The land of Kashmir is the land of saints. The pious servants of Allah have made great sacrifices for the promotion of the true religion across the Muslim lands . The same servants of Allah also turned to Kashmir for the purpose of strengthening Islam, so you will see the shrines of many religious leaders here. According to official website of Waqf Board , an organization called “Idara Auqaf Islamia” was created with Jenab Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as the founding President and most of the shrines, mosques and other Waqf properties including the sacred shrine of Hazratbal, were also brought under its control. A Constitution was framed which provided setting up of Majlis-i-Uzama (General Council) as the Supreme authority and a Majlis-i-Intizamia (Working Committee) for smooth and democratic functioning of the organization for protecting, maintaining and managing the shrines, mosques and other properties affiliated with the Idara. In 1973 , the Majlis-i-Uzama considered it necessary to transform the organization into a trust for general welfare and efficient management of the ever-growing constituent units of Muslim Waqfs, Khanquahs, Mosques, Shrines, other religious places and institutions and properties attached thereto. On August 31, 1973 in a huge gathering of Muslims at Hazratbal, it was resolved that the Idara Auqaf-i-Islamia be transformed into a trust called “All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Auqaf Trust’ with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as the first trustee and Chairman for life.
The Trust Deed was drawn on September 23, 1973. Dr. Farooq Abdullah took over as Chairman and Managing Trustee with effect from September 8,1982. Judging by the performance of the Waqf Board, the institution has not yet woken up from its slumber and has not yet made any effort to open its eyes and fulfill its responsibilities. It must be accepted with regret that the committees set up for the shrines of Jammu and Kashmir have failed miserably at every level. Till date, the institution has not done anything that we can be proud of. The Kashmiri people have not forgotten the tragedies of Khanyar and Charar-e-sharief shrines till now. Later on, the Auqaf board constructed Khanyar and Charari Sharief shrines again but the shrines that caught fire due to the negligence of the people concerned were great masterpieces of craftsmanship. The people have been kept unaware of the real cause of the fire till date and we do not hope that we will get the answer to the negligence ever in the future. It is not my intention to estimate the revenue of the Waqf Board but it cannot compete with the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board that has built hospitals, colleges, universities etc in a short span of time. And they are also active in helping countless poor families and other underprivileged people.
Few days ago, the administration removed over 100 Mujavirs and donation boxes from major shrines in Kashmir. Officials said that it was a very hectic process “We faced tremendous hardships while removing the Mujavirs from these holy spots , but we have managed successfully to come up with the expectations of the people and all the Mujavirs from the major shrines in Srinagar, especially when Mujavirs of Khanyar Dastgeer Sahab shrine were removed.” The officials further said that 36 Mujavirs were removed from Ashmuqam Pahalgam shrine while 20 were removed from Chrar-e-Shareef .The donation boxes installed by these Mujavirs were also sealed and taken into custody . The officials adding that at some shrines, there were Shama Daan in which people used to donate money, were also removed. Originally Mujavirs were caretakers of shrines and Khankahs of the valley who would earn from the offerings made by devotees and other visitors to these places. With the passage of time , they made it a family legacy passing it from one generation to the next . They have self-earmarked and alloted specific spots in and around shrine premises and forcing people to make donations at their respective spots to their satisfaction. They have turned it a forced business and people have resentment against it everywhere. Awqaf administration should have taken this step long ago. I hope that there will be no political interest in this but it is just an initiative to create a pleasant atmosphere among the Awqaf authorities and pilgrims. As a good and responsible citizen, I heartily welcome such decisions. Well, it was the government’s negligence and it is the government’s responsibility to fix it. Taking another step forward, the Awqaf Board has also urged the shopkeepers and traders associated with the Awqaf to make new leases and issued notices to vacate their ventures who showed negligence in paying the rent. We also appreciate this initiative, now Awqaf should also issue notices to those famous schools and institutes who earn crores of rupees every year on thousands of kanals of Awqaf land and pay only peanuts as rent to Awqaf board.
It is hoped that Dr. Darakhshah Andrabi will issue orders to update the income received from the Awqaf Property on the public portal so that the public’s doubts about this institution will be removed. One should try to maximize the use of income generated from awqaf property for public activities as best as possible , for which I cite the best example of Mata Vishnu Devi Shrine Board in the same article. It is hoped that under the presidency of Dr.Darakshan Andrabi Waqaf Board will resume functioning gracefully.
(The Author is working as Sr Edp head at DD Target PMT Parraypora Srinagar the Reputed institute For Medical/JEE Coaching in Kashmir. Views are exclusively his own)