Mess In Wakf Board: Authorities, Traders Blame Each Other

SRINAGAR: The Muslim Wakf Board authorities and trade bodies in Kashmir are at loggerheads with both trading accusations against each other over its mess.

The revision of rates of the shops owned by the Board has mired in to a fresh controversy.

The authorities claim that the revision of rates was to generate more revenue, and it was only hiking the rent in keeping with the structure of rents in the market. The business community has opposed the decision terming it “arbitrary and unjustified”.

Now, the Wakf Board authorities and the traders are accusing each other for “misleading” the public.

The duo is getting paid advertisements published in local newspapers of the valley accusing each other over mess in the Board.

In one of the advertisements, the Vice-Chairman of the Wakf Board, Peer Mohammad Hussain, said they have revised the rent that is based on market value as per the Supreme Court guidelines.

“Some traders consider Wakf Board property as the charity and trying to mislead the public. These traders are not paying rent to the Board,” the Vice-Chairman said.

He said the Board will take the legal recourse and approach the court for recovering rent from the defaulting shopkeepers.

“Some shopkeepers are misleading people about revised rates. At prime location of the Lal Chowk, the JK Wakf owns a hotel with 49 rooms, attached bathrooms, and two restaurant halls and a kitchen get only Rs 3 lakh rent annually. But as per the location and market potential, it could generate revenue of Rs 5 crore annually,” he added.

While the traders are getting published their paid advertisement every other day in newspapers, hitting back at the Wakf Board authorities for “misleading” the public.

“The Board authorities under a well planned conspiracy are misleading the people about the traders. We don’t consider Wakaf property as the charity but we are its custodians,” theKashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) said, in one of the paid advertisements.

They warned the Vice-Chairman of the Board not to “provoke” people against the traders. “You are misleading the people about the traders,” they said.

The Wakf-owned properties including shops had been rented out even at nominal charges of Rs 292. 50 and Rs 332 per-month around the commercial hub of Lal Chowk while the rent was Rs 100, Rs 125.66 and Rs 80 in some areas of Srinagar till 2015. But there has been now around 3000 percent hike.

The WAKF Board has immovable assets worth Rs 2000 crore. It owns around 170 buildings, 1500 shops, 1400 rooms, over 30 showrooms, 86 sets, 50 halls, besides dozens of other assets.

A large number of revenue also comes from donations from the devotees who visit different shrines of the State.

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