In an unexpected twist, Maharashtra Minorities Affairs Minister Nawab Malik on Thursday publicly “invited” the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to help cleanse the goings-on in the state Wakf Board which looks after all Muslim communities’ assets and properties.
The Nationalist Congress Party Minister’s solicitation to the ED came in the wake of the central agency’s raids at 7 locations in connection with a complaint of an alleged scam of around Rs 9.60 crore, against a Pune-based trust, which is registered with the Wakf Board.
The ED actions led to wild speculation in a section of media that the Wakf Board, overseen by Malik, was raided and he would be the next target of the probe.
Laughing away the rumours, the NCP leader said that the Wakf Board had already complained against the Pune-based endowment trust in August 2021 after learning of the irregularities.
Two whistle-blowers, Mushtaque A. Shaikh and Munawwar K. Nanhekhan followed up with a complaint to the Wakf Board and Malik in September, but since there was no action, they approached the ED.
“The irregularity was conducted by Wakf Board Assistant CEO Farooque Pathan gave a fake NOC of January 22, 2021, on a community property that had been reserved illegally in 2011 without the board’s permission. Through the fake NOC by the Asst CEO, a group of people who had floated a fraudulent trust grabbed around Rs 9.60 crore,” Shaikh and Nanhekhan told IANS.
The duo said though the Wakf Board lodged the police complaint against the trust, they failed to act against its own official, whose acts resulted in the loss to the community, though later Pathan reneged on the NOC.
Declining to specify if the ED had raided the Wakf Board, Shaikh and Nanhekhan clarified that they were not apprised of the central probe agency’s actions on Thursday on the trust or officials.
On his part, Malik said that besides the Pune trust, the Wakf Board has in the past couple of years lodged police complaints against 7 such trusts across the state as part of the massive cleansing drive he had initiated.
“We welcome the ED action on this trust, and we recommend it act against the other trusts also. We shall hand over 30,000 Wakf Board properties for them to investigate. The ED should help us in this massive cleanup operation,” he added.
Referring to the media reports that he would soon be targeted for his ongoing campaign against the NCB officials and BJP leaders, the minister, with a smile, said that if the ED wants to probe him: “I shall welcome them and extend my full cooperation.”
Malik pointed out that in the past two years of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, there has been a thorough cleanup campaign underway in the Wakf Board affairs and to make it completely transparent by going digital.
“For the first time in its history, the Wakf Board has got a fulltime CEO with a two-year tenure and 10 members. All documents are being scanned and we shall upload full details on a portal soon to ensure complete transparency in the work,” he said.
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