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4 out of 5 appointed to Gujarat Waqf Board linked to BJP: Report

The Gujarat government recently appointed five individuals to the state Waqf Board after a period of dissolution lasting almost 10 months.

Out of these five members, four are affiliated with the BJP, while the remaining one member is from the Congress party- Jamalpur MLA Imran Khedawala, The Indian Express reported.

Since there is no Muslim MP from Gujarat, the government has chosen Sofia Jamalbhai, an independently elected member of Godhra Municipality, to serve on the board. Sofia is not only an active BJP worker who contested the election for Godhra Nagar Palika as an independent candidate, but also supported the BJP in ruling the Godhra Nagar Palika.

Previously, the late Congress MP Ahmed Patel held the position of a parliamentary representative in this governing body, which oversees approximately 14,000 properties in Gujarat.

According to a notification from the state’s Legal Department dated November 7, Radiologist Mohsin Lokhandwala has been appointed to fill a vacancy that was originally intended for a professional town planner. He holds the position of BJP state minority wing president

Additionally, Jishaan Nakvi, a BJP worker, and Aasif Kader Shelot, a BJP worker and a member of the BJP state secretary of the minority wing, have been appointed as recognised scholars in Shia and Sunni Islamic theology.

Dr Mohsin Lokhandwala mentioned in an interview with The Indian Express that the next step involves the election of one member from the Muttawalli (administrator), who will be chosen by Muslim lawyers who are members of the Bar. The selected member’s name will then be sent to the state as a lawyer member of the State Waqf Board. Additionally, a member from the Gujarat Administrative Service (GAS) or IAS, appointed by the state government, will also be a part of the board.

According to State law Sec P M Raval, in cases where there is no Muslim MP or former MP in the state, the law allows the government to appoint any member in the same category. (Sofia Jamalbhai has been nominated in this category.)

Raval further explained to the publication that the criteria for the election of Muttawalli (caretaker of a religious property) include being a member of the trust and submitting the previous year’s annual audit report of the religious property they are associated with. The property should have an annual income of at least Rs 1 lakh.One member of the trust will be eligible to contest the election, and all the Muttawalis will elect a single member who will serve on the State Waqf Board.

Currently, there are more than 200 properties in the state that meet these criteria.

(Published 13 November 2023, 08:16 IST)

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