Kashmir is the known globally as being land of great Saints, Sufis. It is bestowed with great religious wealth in the form of abundant shrines and places of worship enjoying reverence and allegiance from people professing different faiths.
It is a known fact that the beautiful valley of Kashmir with the inception of Islam did undergo reformative changes at all levels and strata of society. The imprints which Islam left on Kashmiris have been aptly put by the noted historian Prem Nath Bazaz “Politics had dehumanized the Kashmiris; Islam made them men again. Just as the Muslim rule was established in Kashmir without much bloodshed, so was Islam spread throughout the length and breadth of the valley by peaceful preaching and lucid persuasions of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani(RA) and hundreds of the Sayyid Missionaries who came from Hamadan and other parts of Persia.
In this regard, Muslim Wakf Board, which has the unique distinction of being second largest asset rich body in Jammu and Kashmir after the State government is the custodian of these 47 holy shrines in the Kashmir Valley.
But, over the decades WAKF has failed to perform effectively and has been in news for all the wrong reasons. Recently, scores of shopkeepers and traders under the banner of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) and Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) staged protest against what they termed as “arbitrary and unjustified” hike of rentals of shops leased out by Wakf Board.
On their part, traders have alleged Wakf Board has “cheated” them by engaging them into negotiations and on the other side sending officials for recovery of rents at hiked rates.
KCCI President Mushtaq Ahmad Wani and Secretary General KTMF Bashir Ahmad Kongposh, who were leading the demonstration, said, “the token protest was held to remind the concerned authorities that the traders’ fraternity has not forgotten the ultimatum given to the government.”
“We will resist such sinister moves of the government tooth and nail,” said KTMF President Haji Muhammed Yasin Khan.
“State government and the Wakf board authorities are dancing to the tunes of rightwing fanatics. The Wakf board authorities are behaving like RSS bhakts and it seems they have been guided to do so. We will give a befitting a reply soon which will surely shake the corridors of power,” Khan said.
On the other hand of the spectrum, despite generating tremendous income one fails to witness any impressive work done by the WAKF Board. Even many of the shrines lack proper facilities, management. A visit to many shrines under its management reveals this negative veracity. At many points, even the staircases leading to this famous Shrines are in shambles and the bathrooms, rooms constructed for devotees are also highly unhygienic. This is despite of the fact that shrines gets huge donations from devotees.
WAKF has also failed to lend any notable contribution to health and education sector. Parents spend several hours of their precious time in quest to just owe a single admission form of the reputed Christian missionary schools whileas no such things are witnessed in case of schools owned by the WAKF Board.
While talking to News Kashmir, Advocate Iftikhar Ahmad states – “WAKF Board has more or less been a failure as it has not lend any notable contributions to the society. WAKF Board has also not made any mark in the all important education and health sector as it has failed to construct hospitals for the poor masses of Kashmir which otherwise should have been done by the WAKF Board years back considering its impressive economic strength. Overall, WAKF has disappointed the people of Kashmiris via its inefficiency .”
In nutshell, WAKF performance is quiet dismal according to voices on ground.