India

Minority Affairs Minister Lambast Detractors; Alleges Political Motivations

M Reyaz, BeyondHeadlines

New Delhi: Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid came down heavily on those criticising the Waqf Amendment Bill 2010. Waqfs are endowments for Muslim religious or charitable purposes.

In an interview with a news portal TwoCircles.net, Khurshid categorically said: “Whatever we do will be unexceptionally, categorically Shariah compliance. There cannot be, must not be, will not be departure from Shariah.” Shairah is an Islamic code of law based on Quran and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad.


Silencing all his critics, the minister said that the bill was with the Select Committee of the Upper House for six months and that if any one had any apprehensions, they should present themselves to the committee. He said: “If anyone has any apprehension, he should just go and speak to the committee.” He further expressed “surprised that all the actions are taking place outside the committee.” Lambasting at all the criticisms he has been facing over the bill, he asked, “All civilised people do that, what the Select Committees are for?”

BeyondHeadlines had reported on May 24 that Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and many other Muslim organisations and leaders are opposed to the bill in its present form. Their main apprehensions are that the purpose of waqf would be diluted.

Clearing all air, Khurshid said that the bill aimed “to ensure that we know where the waqfs are…to protect the waqfs… (and) to help develop the waqfs.”

He added that the Central Waqf Council would be given “more teeth.”

On the fear that in its present form, the bill does not define the “millat” or community and would thus in future complicate the situation; the minister said, “If we as a Muslim, after all these years, do not know what a millat is, we have a serious problem.” He further added, “The law of waqf will prevail, irrespective of phraseology.”

There are also suggestions from some quarters that there should be cadres for Central Waqf Surveys appointed by the Government of India to manage waqf properties. He laughed away any such proposal saying, “Is Waqf supposed to be paid by a secular government?” He regarded such suggestions as “not feasible…non-viable” and said that you cannot have both ways “don’t interfere to ask us questions, but interfere to give us money.”

Asked about the use of land for other purposes, he confronted that why all these years waqf lands had been given on lease or rent to non-Muslims for “commercial reasons.”

Hinting at soon to be cabinet reshuffle, Khurshid added, “Certain political events in our country” might be the reason behind the ruckus created to send the message that the community is not happy with him.”

Expressing satisfaction over the current leadership, Khurshid said, “Completely unimaginable opportunities have come up for Muslims” in the Congress-led UPA government, but added, “I am not saying that these are enough.”

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