Vote Bank Politics: Wakf Board distributing relief in select areas

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Srinagar: At a time when Kashmir is facing “worst-ever humanitarian crises” for around a month, the J&K Muslim Wakf Board has started a public outreach program to distribute relief but mainly in vote bank areas of the ruling alliance drawing flak from destitute who cried discrimination.
Some former members of the board said the Wakf board had around Rs one crore reserve in its Baitul Maal when its former Vice-Chairman demitted office but today it is reduced to few lacs since the PDP-BJP took the reins of power and installed its own set of men in the board.
Officials said some  days back Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who is also the Chairman of the Wakf board asked them to start relief distribution program.
Sources said the Wakf board subsequently procured hundreds of quintals of rice and started its distribution. But this is where the alleged discrimination arose.
Insiders said some of ministers and other senior leaders from a ruling party contacted the Wakf authorities asking them to send relief to their specified vote bank areas.
In one such example though densely populated old City the Shaher-e-Khaas witnessed chronic siege as people craved for essentials, the relief was distributed in civil lines in Mehjoor Nagar locality seen as vote bank of a politician from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party led government.
Insiders said following a call from the politician who represents the area, the Wakf board instantly sent several truckloads of ration there. “Similarly another beneficiary of this supposed to be humanitarian aid is PDP's defeated candidate from a downtown constituency who previously remained a trade union leader,” the insiders said.
This led the areas like Khanyar and Rainawari go up in arms against the discrimination. “Is Wakf board for   the Muslims in general or has it been reduced to an institution meant to serve the interests of PDP alone,” said some residents of Fateh Kadal.
The Fateh Kadal residents said their locality has “biggest number of economically downtrodden  people,” but that they were not given even a morsel of rice by the Wakf Board.
The besieged people alleged that during a relief distribution in old City, the Wakf board sent one ton-truckloads but only to  areas specified and identified by some  leaders of the ruling coalition partner.
Similar reports poured in from across the Valley.
Sources said some of the leaders from the political party were in constant touch with the Wakf officials guiding them on distribution of ration.
Senior National Conference leader and MLA Habba Kadal Shamima Firdous said the areas where NC wields influence were deliberately ignored. “We wonder how come Wakf board is behaving as an extended limb of PDP,” Shamima told Kashmir Observer.
Established in 1940 by National Conference founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah as Muslim Auqaf Trust to help the needy and down-trodden sections of Muslims of the State, the Board has miserably failed in its objective.
In 2003, the PDP-led coalition took control of the assets of the Muslim Auqaf Trust and rechristened it as J&K Muslim Wakf Board.
When contacted, Vice- Chairman Wakf Board Peer Muhammad Hussain however denied that there was any discrimination in the relief distribution. “Though we started the outreach program on the instructions of Chief Minister who is also the Chairperson, we didn’t resort to any discrimination. The relief was sent to local Masjid Intizaamiyas, who have distributed it,” Hussain said.

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