M Reyaz, BeyondHeadlines
New Delhi: K Rehman Khan, deputy chairman, Rajya Sabha (upper house), spoke in the house today on a rare occasion as a member of parliament while Vice President Hamid Ansari was in chair.
Khan, who is also Rajya Sabha MP from the Congress party from Karnataka, came heavily on the government for “tardy” progress of its minority welfare schemes. He further suggested that implementation of Rangnathan Mishra Report is constitutionally valid.
Khan participated in the discussion on the functioning of the Ministry of Minority Affairs. He argued that government’s special schemes for 90 Muslim concentrated districts have so far not yielded any result as its implementation is “slow and tardy.” He added, “It has not got any impact on minorities.”
He spoke on three relevant issues – Waqf Properties, Hajj subsidy and Interest free banking – all connected to socio-economic affairs of the community.
Waqf Properties: Khan argued that Waqf properties or endowments are not less than 4 lakh acres of land, a large portion of which are encroached upon, often by government bodies. He mentioned about Mukesh Ambani’s mansion coming up in once Waqf land in Mumbai, Kolkata’s race course and Tollygang Club, Bangluru’s Windsor Manor Hotel, etc. According to him about 2 lakh acres of land is encroached. He advised the Ministry of Minority Affairs to have a vision on “Wakf development.”
Khan charged the government of not yet furnishing Action Taken Report (ATR) on the recommendations of a Parliamentary panel for better management of these properties. He suggested that if an empowered committee is made to manage these properties worth around Rs 15 crore, Muslim populations would not require much patronage from the government. With proper investment and management, Waqf properties can itself yield an income of Rs 10,000 crore, he argued and suggested to the Minority Affair Ministry to look into the matter.
Interest-free Financial Institutions: Khan emphasised that interest is forbidden in Islam and “is a religious belief; there may not be any logic or justification to it. But now what they are saying is that they want to save money for their own development and, therefore, they want to create an institutional mechanism.”
Hajj: Khan argued that Muslims never demanded hajj subsidy and that more than the community it helps the airline companies. He said: “We did not ask for subsidy. The Muslim community has never asked for the subsidy that you give. Why was the subsidy given?” Instead, he suggested logistic cooperation, a statutory body to manage its affairs.