KSMC Chairman Anwar Manippady tells Imran Khan that encroached land should be given back to the Karnataka Wakf Board
The Karnataka State Minorities Commission (KSMC) claims the scam runs into 22,000 acres of encroached land worth Rs 2 lakh crore. How did you arrive at that figure?
The total value of Wakf properties is close to Rs 5 lakh crore. 54,000 acres of Wakf land is in cities. 20,000 acres of land is not registered by owners for fear of land grabbers. Apart from land, there are 23,740 registered properties and around 18,000 unregistered properties. The most famous Wakf property in Bengaluru is the Windsor Manor Hotel worth more than Rs 1,500 crore. In Bidar, the value of the Wakf property is close to Rs 25,000 crore.
At what point did you feel the need for such a survey? Wasn’t an inventory of the Wakf properties done before?
During my several inspection tours all over the state, I found large-scale encroachment of Wakf land. It was happening with the connivance of the officials of the Wakf department and the local land mafia. I took up Bidar as a pilot project and ordered a thorough investigation.
What has been the modus operandi of the scam?
Akhilesh Yadav is the undisputed leader of the SP There isn’t just one single modus operandi, there are several. It includes the head of the Wakf Board denotifying the Wakf land and later transferring it in his name. Another modus operandi is that Board members issue the requisite no objection certificate (NOC) for the land, stating that the Board has no right over this property. They then sell the land at a throwaway price.
Questions are being raised on the timing of the report. Only Congress ministers have been named in it. Is it to balance the negative publicity received by the BJP in the state?
It is absolutely ridiculous. There is no balancing act being done here. My report is based on plain facts.
So apart from the Congress, who else is named in it?
I wouldn’t like to comment on this now as it violates the sanctity of the report.
At any point, were you stopped from bringing out the report?
The current Wakf Board Chairman Riaz Khan offered me a bribe of Rs 4 crore in January to stop me from bringing it out. Apart from that, I received several threats to my life.
What kind of obstacles did you face in the course of your survey and investigation?
I must say that I faced absolute non-cooperation from the Wakf Board officials. I was not able to access the archives of the Board, which could have revealed the true extent of the scam. But I also received great help from a lot of people, including some upright government officials like Sameer Shukla, the deputy commissioner of Bidar. Most of all, there was a lot of help and support from the members of the Muslim community in Karnataka. People who heard of the work I was doing, contacted me and gave documents pertaining to the illegal land-grab. It was by following up these leads that I was able to uncover what had taken place.
How are you planning to get back the encroached land?
According to a Supreme Court judgment, once a Wakf land, always a Wakf land. We have already suggested for a Lokayukta probe and demanded that the encroached land be given back to the Board.
Is the Board also planning to register cases against the ministers/legislators and officials who have been held responsible in your report?
We don’t have the mandate to take suo moto action. We are a recommending body. But if any complaint is sent to us then we can direct the government to take action.
Imran Khan is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.com.