UP Sunni Board Acted Under Pressure; Most Members Corrupt: Dissenting Member

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The 16th century Babri Masjid was demolished by a Hindu mob on 6th December 1992 in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.

Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW – Expressing strong resentment over the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board decision against filing a review petition in the Supreme Court vis-a-vis the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi verdict, dissenting board members said on Tuesday that the decision was taken under “pressure”. The board chairman was allegedly involved in corruption cases, they said and criticised Tazeen Fatima, wife of former UP minister Azam Khan, for her support to the board’s decision.

As expected, the chairman of the Sunni Waqf Board, Zafar Farooqui, did not respect the sentiments of the Muslim community and the justice-loving people, and they later went on to act against his decision and sought a review of the Babri judgement in the Supreme Court. Farooqui also got support for his stand against a review, from six members (including an ex-official member), while two members strongly stood in favour of a review petition.

Noted lawyer Imran Mabood Khan, who strongly favoured filing of the review petition, said it was unfortunate that most of the members of the board were “corrupt” and they failed the community on the Babri issue by siding with the chairman. The chairman, he felt, was clearly under pressure from the government to accept the Babri verdict wholesale.

Speaking to Caravan Daily on phone from Lucknow, Khan said if an inquiry is initiated against Farooqui, it would show there was substance in the allegations raised against him. He had allegedly made millions from wake properties, Khan alleged.

Khan said the other members of the Board who backed the chairman were also not having a clean image. He said Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan used to loudly pronounce that those who betrayed the Babri masjid cause would have to answer on the Day of the Judgement. “However, he is quiet when his own wife Tazeen Fatima as a member of the board backed the chairman’s decision so as to save her Parliament membership. “In addition to this, Azam Khan’s another nominee to the board, Mohammad Junaid Siddiqui (Rampur), also backed the chairman,” Khan said.

Zafar Farooqui, Chairman of Sunni Waqf Board, Uttar Pradesh.

The Samajwadi Party MLC, Abrar Ahmad, and a member from chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s hometown of Gorakhpur, Adnan Farrukh Shah, voted against offering a challenge to the verdict.

Khan sarcastically said, “It is the business of certain board members to indulge in corrupt acts vis-à-vis Waqf properties. They sell a grave (qabar) at the time of breakfast, a tomb during lunch and a graveyard by the time of dinner … Membaran nashtey main qabar, lunch main maqbra aur dinner in qabarastan nigaltey hain.”

He said when the “Supreme Court accepted that the mosque was built in 1528, its existence as also its desecration in 1949 as also accepted, and so was its demolition in 1992. But, the court did not give any reason why it still awarded the mosque land to the Hindus. For this reason, we were in favour of challenging the court verdict. This is our Constitutional right and we must exercise it. The chairman has set a wrong precedent by not going in the appeal.”

Khan said: “I cited a scenario during the discussion in a TV channel the other day. Take it that somebody razed your house and the court accepted this has happened. And then the court awards a piece of land to you away from the place where your house stood. Will you accept it?”

“It is a shame for us that the justice-loving non-Muslims, the likes of Harsh Mander, are running a drive for filing a collective review petition against the judgment. The Waqf Board which is supposed to be the protector of Waqf properties are running away from its duties,” he said and added that there was strong resentment in the community against the board’s decision.

Another dissenting member, Abdur Razzaque Khan, said the people won’t forgive the board for this stand. Razzaque, who left the meeting midway, argued that “alternative land should not be accepted for ‘Allah ka Ghar’ (house of God) and a review of the order should be done.”

FAROOQUI’S RESPONSE

In the meeting, the Wakf Board has decided not to go for a review or curative petition on the Supreme Court verdict on the Babri Masjid verdict which went against the mosque. When asked about the logic behind the decision to not file a review petition, Chairman Farooqui said it was based on the board’s well-publicised stand in the past that we would accept whatever verdict the Supreme Court has delivered, even if it goes against us.”

When asked whether it was due to pressure from CBI that the board decided against filing a review petition, he said, “None of the petitioners said so to me. If they have told you, you can go and ask them.”

However, strong resentment against the board’s decision is palpable in the community. Senior journalist from Lucknow, Eftidda Bhatti, told Caravan Daily that the decision has not gone down well within the community and many felt the board let the community down. The board’s decision has no bearing on the review petition but it would certainly harm the image of the community as the Sunni board was the main plaintiff in the case, Bhatti said.

He said he was of the view that the board chairman was not a principled man and he had changed his political loyalties many a time in the past and was affiliated to the BSP at one time.

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