By AN Shibli (NVONews.com)
Intizar Nayeem, Assistant secretary Jamat-e-Islami Hind is a man in hurry. His table and his rundown office shows piles and piles of papers, many of them RTI applications and their voluminous responses from different government agencies across the country. His intriguing questions related to different Muslim issues –most important of them all about waqf properties across the country –are keeping babus busy in government offices across the country.
He is trying his best to raise different issues related to the community and other weaker sections of the society with the help of Right to Information Act (RTI). During recent days he has taken many initiatives as far as the safety of waqf properties are concerned. AN Shibli of NVONews.Com talked to him on different issues from illegal arrest of Muslim youth to grabbing of waqf properties. Excerpts
When you decided to use RTI for the first time?
Just after this law came in force in the year 2005 the Jamat-e-Islami hind decided to use RTI to bring different facts related to minorities. When this type of law is available that gives you the liberty to know Government’s related information then every citizen should use this act that will be beneficial for him and for the nation too. So far we have filed many RTIs including illegal occupation of waqf land, number of Muslim prisoners in different jails in India, number of normal and caesarian delivery in hospitals, number of mosques in India and that are in use or not, expenditure on the name of cleanliness of Yamuna river besides situations of Banjara Muslims in India etc.
Which was your first question you had asked under RTI act?
Though there are a number of problems the Muslims are facing today but we had decided that the most important thing is the illegal arrest of Muslim youths in different part of India so as the first RTI we asked as to why is the number of Muslim prisoners in different jails in India is so high and what are their conditions and in which crime they are in jail.
Till now how many RTIs you have sent to Government official and which questions you think were more important than other issues?
The grabbing of Waqf properties is the biggest problem of Indian Muslims. With the help of RTI we asked all the states of India to give us the details about the waqf land occupied by someone. Separately we asked them to give details about the waqf land occupied by the Government. You will be surprised to know that in every state there are lots of waqf properties that are illegally occupied by the Government itself. Even in Delhi, the capitals of India there are about 172 waqf properties illegally occupied by the Government. Millennium Park that is situated near Sarai kale Khan and that increase the beauty of Delhi but unfortunately this park has grabbed the 10 acre waqf land. There was about 14 acre land of waqf near this park. Out of the 14 acre land the DDA encroached 10 acres and used it in the park. We came on the conclusion that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is playing very dirty role as far as the grabbing of waqf land is concerned.
No doubt there are many lands that are grabbed by the Government but what you will say about those waqf properties that have been occupied by even Muslims?
Grabbing waqf land is unconstitutional, unethical and illegal. It does not matter who has grabbed the land. Islam does not allow any Muslim to grab the land of others. If any Muslim does so it means he is doing a sin. The fact is that there are many lands in India that have been grabbed by Muslims. Many properties are even grabbed by the people associated with Waqf Board. You can see the example of area near Jama Masjid. In the surrounding of Jama Masjid there are many mosques that are now being used as shop, factory or residential complexes.
Do you think that any of your RTI query has made any impact?
Though Jamat does not claim that there is any drastic change because of our RTI but we can say that after our RTI and letter to concerned authorities from the Jamat Islami Hind the Government is seriously thinking on some issues. For example we had asked from all the states that what are the total numbers of graveyards and what are the programs to put boundary wall around them. It may be because of our letter and query, in the very first meeting of cabinet UP new Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said that the all graveyards in up will be boundary walled. I think Uttar Pradesh will be the first state where there were boundary wall around all the graveyard of the state. Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee said that there will be CBI inquiry in land grabbing of waqf properties. We have written a letter to Mamta and asked her that CBI inquiry will take time, it will be easy for you to take action on that land first, that are occupied by the Government.
Jamat is exclusively working on the mosques and graveyards of India. What actually you are doing in this regard?
We had sent RTI to Archaeological Survey of India asking them about the total number of mosques in India, total number of mosques where there is no permission to perform Namaz, the reason of not given permission to perform Namaz, the number of mosque occupied by someone. As far as the graveyards are concerned we have used RTI to know what are the total numbers of graveyards in India, number of graveyards occupied by someone, number of graveyards with boundary wall, number of graveyards without boundary wall. Our aim is to collect the complete records about the mosque and graveyards of India. After the boundary wall around the graveyard there will less chance of encroachment.
What you will suggest to save the waqf properties?
If we are thinking that the Government will save the waqf land from illegal occupation it will be our mistake. Protection of Waqf land is a big task and only a man like me or a Jamat like Jamat-e-Islami Hind cannot do that. Our joint efforts only can protect these lands. Every Muslim particularly the Muslims organisations should think that this is their duty to free these lands from the illegal occupation and then ensured it safety.