Wakf flat allotment cancelled, Sharqiya tells her story

Srinagar

The Wakf authorities have withdrawn the order of allotment of a Wakf property, a two-storeyed house at Gupkar road, to a cousin of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The allottee said the decision was taken on her request.

The allotment created news after the order was put on social media by an NC worker. It had alleged that that Nizam-ud-Din Bhat, vice-chairman, Wakf Board, and PDP general secretary, had “illegally transferred” two flats to Syed Sharqiya, daughter of Farooq Andrabi. Andrabi is Mehbooba’s uncle and was the Haj and Auqaf Minister in the PDP-BJP government.

“The order (transfer of two flats to Sharqiya) is hereby withdrawn and treated as cancelled ab initio,” reads an order issued by the Revenue Officer of the J&K Muslim Wakf Board.

After the order was cancelled, Syed Sharqiya has issued a statement, a copy of which was mailed to our newsroom. Terming the news stories about the flat allotment as “manufactured disinformation”, the former minister’s daughter said she would be avoided reaction had not her cousin and her father’s name being dragged into it.

“I would not have responded to the blatant and ridiculous lies being spread by some elements whose smear campaigns know no bounds had only I been accused or maligned in this gravely fabricated story but unfortunately, the names of the former Chief Minister, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, and my father, Mr. Syed Farooq Andrabi, have been dragged into this unwarranted controversy as well,” she said in a response to the newsroom.

Here is the detail of the statement:

“At the very outset, I reject and refute the false allegations that I or my family have done something illegal or irregular by renting the flat from the Wakf Board or that under the law, the flat should have been auctioned. Let me inform all those interested in the truth rather than petty mudslinging that residential properties have never been auctioned by the Wakf Board and the rent for such properties has always been fixed by the Wakf Board bearing in mind the market and property conditions. Further, the former CM had no knowledge of this allotment till this information was made public. It is very sad that self-proclaimed journalists and party-speakers stooped to this level just to gain some political mileage. I would like to clarify the facts as are known to me to clear any doubts and misconceptions that may have arisen in the minds of the people who have become aware of this information (that was meant to be private).

We were in need of an accommodation for reasons that are personal to me and my family.  Unfortunately, owing to my father’s political career, we had to look for an accommodation in a secure zone. After due research, we found out that such a property could be found with the Wakf Board only and that the same would be at an affordable cost. I approached the Wakf Board and enquired about any vacant residential, non-commercial property in any of the security zones in Srinagar city that could be allotted to me. The Wakf Board identified the 2 flats in question. It is pertinent to clarify that the properties in question are dilapidated and uninhabitable in their current state and need significant repairs. Further, Gupkar being a high-security zone, the accommodation does not provide parking. These are the primary reasons the properties have remained vacant for the last 3 years. I have been given to understand that the last tenant is a defaulter, having never paid his rent and electricity bill, which led to a disconnection of electricity at the said premises and consequently, his eviction.

Since we were in immediate need of an accommodation, I agreed to take the properties on rent and after following the due process, the Wakf authorities allotted the said properties to me by way of a temporary licence deed dated 23.06.2018 (which is the document in news), having a tenure of 11 months only, against an advance monthly rent of INR 12000 and advance security deposit of INR 10000. This is the document that is being used to disseminate false information and make ridiculous and baseless allegations of land grabbing, etc. In regard to these allegations which are being spread through social media and local news, without any verification whatsoever, with the mala fide intentions of tarnishing the image of my father and to undermine the very benevolent Wakf Board, I state as follows:

1. Allotment by way of a temporary licence deed does not tantamount to transfer of property, nor does it confer any permanent right of use on the allottee, as was wrongly projected in the news. It can be terminated by Wakf at any time after due notice;

2. Wakf property cannot be permanently alienated (or grabbed) under any circumstances. Section 43 of the Wakf Act, 2004 and various supreme court rulings ensure that. Any such permanent alienation is void ab initio;

3. There is no embargo under the Wakf Act on the allotment of Wakf properties only to a certain section of the society. As such, I am just as entitled to apply for an accommodation as any other Kashmiri;

4. The flats were previously rented out at INR 2500 to the last tenant. This can be verified from the Wakf records. The allotment rules inter alia provide that any new allotment will be made at the previous rent increased by 120%, which is the rent I am paying to the Board. I have been given to understand that as on 05.07.2018 I was highest rent payer for any residential Wakf property;

5.I reiterate that in the history of Kashmir, Wakf has never auctioned a residential property whether during the NC governments rule or the PDP governments rule. The auctions have only been held in respect of commercial properties. The residential properties are let out when a request is made for allotment. This, I have been told, is the norm as regards allotment of properties by Wakf. I am not defending this norm of Wakf, but my father is being accused of the gravest crimes and sins because a rule that is never followed, was not followed in our case as well.

6.My father stepped down from his position as the Minister of Hajj and Aukaf in December 2017 and the said properties were allotted to us on 23.06.2018, after the collapse of the Government.

Be that as it may, owing to the condition of the said properties, possession was not handed over to us immediately. We requested the Wakf Authorities to undertake some renovation/ repairs, however, the request was outrightly denied on the ground that the Wakf Board could not afford to incur any expenditure. Even before I could make up my mind about undertaking some repairs or exploring other options, quite unfortunately, the allotment was unduly politicised. It is painful to see that a legitimate need has been transformed into a malicious campaign to subserve the interests of certain people and as a consequence thereof, we are being deprived of the basic right to rented accommodation just because of our family ties. The allotment has been cancelled at my request on the morning of 06.07.2018. I made the request not because I am scared that some fraud will be revealed. You can verify the facts stated by me very easily if you wish to know the true story. I requested for cancellation because it pains me to witness my father being subjected to such petty and unfair comments just because his family expressed a need. My father has worked extremely hard to get where he is today and he has done so with nothing but utmost dignity. He is a well-respected man who has never harmed anyone in any way whatsoever.

Perhaps this is how politics works, but the fact is that in the current scenario where all involved parties and people are indulging in smearing and mudslinging of the worst kind, this is the worst they could accuse my father of. People said what they had to say and slept in their beds soundly, not caring about the fact that they have accused us of things we aren’t even capable of, not bothered about the impact of their loosely spoken politically motivated words on my family. It’s a shame.

I hope that anyone who believes in listening to both sides of a one-sided scandalous story will take a moment to read the licence deed shared by Mr. Mattu and thereafter, form an unbiased opinion for themselves. As regards the baseless allegations that have been made against me and my father, the same having resulted in defamation and mental agony, we are in the process of initiating proper legal action against the responsible people.”

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