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80-Year-Old Mumbai Mosque Declared Unsafe; Waqf Board Challenges Notice

Islamia Masjid trustees are allegedly taking nominal rent from tenants

Team Clarion

MUMBAI – The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mahada) has declared Islamia Masjid and its adjacent building on Bhawani Shankar Road in Mumbai’s Dadar as dangerous. Recently, it issued notices under Section 79A, citing the building’s 80-year-old structure amid concerns about its safety. The notice action has given rise to a dispute involving the mosque’s trustees, tenants, and the Waqf Board, which oversees the mosque.

The notice from Mahada prompted a swift response from Yasir Syed, son of the late trustee Mustafa Hasan Syed, who resides in the building. Syed has filed a complaint with the Waqf Board, challenging Mahada’s authority to issue such a notice. He also expressed concerns over the potential implications for the mosque and its associated properties.

“The protection of the mosque is paramount,” Syed stated. “The arbitrary use of the mosque premises by the trustees and the inadequate rent from tenants are issues that need to be addressed. The rent in this prime area should be as per the market rates to ensure the mosque’s sustainability,” he added.

Syed’s complaints extend beyond the notice, accusing the trustees of misusing mosque property and charging nominal rents from shopkeepers.

The Waqf Board has summoned the trustees multiple times since February 2024 but received no response. “An FIR will be registered against the trustees if they continue to ignore the summons,” stated a Waqf Board representative.

Zia-ul-Hasan Syed, another trustee, refuted the allegations, asserting that the building is structurally sound. “The building underwent repairs during the lockdown. Our forefathers dedicated this property to support the mosque’s expenses from the rental income of shops and houses. We are committed to protecting the mosque and its properties,” he said.

Addressing the rent issue, Zia-ul-Hasan Syed explained, “These tenants are not new; they are second and third generations of the original occupants. We have adjusted rents accordingly. Our priority is the mosque’s welfare, and any steps we take are aimed at its improvement and protection.”

Waqf officer Fayaz Pathan confirmed Yasir Syed’s complaints and stated Mahada’s notice lacked jurisdiction. “We issued a notice to Mahada on May 15 clarifying that they have no authority to declare the building dangerous. Our inspection on January 25, 2024, confirmed the building’s structural integrity,” Pathan said.

Any modifications or redevelopment under Section 91 must be communicated to the Waqf Board three months in advance and require our NoC. Unauthorised agreements or changes will result in strict action against the trustees,” he said.

The ongoing legal battle highlights the complexities of managing Waqf properties. The Waqf Board’s role is crucial in ensuring that mosque properties are not misused and that the income generated is used appropriately. While defending their actions, the trustees must navigate these regulations to avoid further legal complications.

The local community is deeply concerned about the potential impact on the mosque. “Protection of the mosque is the responsibility of all of us,” said one community member. “We hope the trustees and the Waqf Board can resolve these issues amicably.”

The tenants, who have operated businesses in the area for decades, also face uncertainty. One shopkeeper, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We have been here for generations. We hope for a resolution that considers our livelihoods and the mosque’s needs.”

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