In a shocking development, it has been reported that files related to the Shia-Sunni Waqf Board for the last five years have been stolen from the Minority Welfare and Waqf Department, which is located in Bapu Bhawan in Lucknow.
Waqf Board Section Officer Ram Bharat has lodged an FIR in this case at the Hazratganj police station in the state capital.
Interestingly, these files have gone missing after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath recommended a CBI inquiry on the financial irregularities in both the Boards.
According to sources, a search took place for some crucial letters after the CBI inquiry was recommended. However, these letters had gone missing following which instructions were issued for lodging an FIR.
There are several reasons to believe that the theft of these files could be a sinsiter conspiracy. It must be kept in mind that Waqf Boards have recently drawn fire over illegal activities and irregularities.
According to a Reuters report, “Several state boards have been accused in recent years of selling waqf land to developers and private buyers for low rates in return for illegal kickbacks as demand for land soars.”
In 2017, Minority Affairs Minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had also highlighted this issue and had said, “Ever since Wakf Boards have been set up, there has been an issue related to vacant properties being encroached upon by what I call Wakf mafia.”
As such in the context of Uttar Pradesh, this development also assumed a lot of significance given the murky track record of the previous SP regime. Azam Khan who was the Urban Development and Minority Affairs Minister in the SP government has been facing trouble over land grabbing cases.
It wouldn’t be a matter of surprise if old Samajwadi, Azam Khan links crop up in the theft of these files.
What is also possible is more nefarious and suspicious foreign funding. States like Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir have been under the limelight for funding to religious bodies by countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even Pakistan.
These countries have been funding radicalism and indoctrination by finding religious bodies in India, and Uttar Pradesh could be one of their main targets. The fact that files of the Waqf Board should be stolen in a state like Uttar Pradesh naturally gives rise to apprehensions of illicit foreign funding.