How would you feel if suddenly you found out that someone else had made an illegal claim on your property, and you can’t even sell it now? Something similar has happened with the people of Tiruchendurai village in Tiruchirappalli district of Tamil Nadu, where there has been a wave of disappointment among the locals, as the Tamil Nadu WAQF Board has claimed the entire village as its property.
The Tamil Nadu WAQF Board is a statutory body established under the Wakf Act 1954. It looks after the WAQF institutions as well as operates their properties. WAQF properties are movable and immovable assets dedicated to any purpose recognized by Muslim law as sacred, religious, or charitable by a person professing Islam.
According to a report in Tamil daily Dinamalar, Rajagopal of Tiruchendurai village had entered into an agreement to sell his 1 acre 2 cents of land to Rajarajeshwari. He had gone to the Joint Three Sub-Registrar’s office in Trichy to arrange and register a purchase deed for Rs 3.5 lakh.
However, he was told by the sub-registrar that the land could not be registered as it belonged to the Tamil Nadu WAQF board. The sub-registrar had told them that they would have to obtain a ‘no-objection certificate’ from the Tamil Nadu WAQF Board office in Chennai to sell the land.
Bewildered and shocked Rajagopal asked why he needed to get a NOC from the WAQF Board to sell the land, which he purchased in 1992. The sub-registrar told him that this was the process of selling any land in Tiruchendurai village.
On the other hand, the WAQF Board has sent a letter to the Registration Department with relevant documents and said that they have the right over this village, and those who come to the village to register a deed for land are required to get their no-objection certificate from them.
When the controversy erupted, the registrar also showed Rajagopal a copy of the 250-page WAQF board letter in this regard. In that letter, the WAQF Board has said that it has the right to thousands of acres of land across Tamil Nadu, and it is lawful to take their permission before buying and selling them.
A shocked Rajagopal told this to the people of his village, since then the people of the village have been worried about the illegal and unethical acquisition of their lands by the WAQF Board.
The people of the village pointed out that they already have all the necessary documents of the revenue department including land lease, revenue ‘A’ registration, and debt burden certificate, so how can the Tamil Nadu WAQF board claim their property?
The matter was brought to the notice of the district collector, who has assured to look into the entire subject and take a decision based on it.
Is the 1500-year-old Hindu temple now in the possession of the WAQF Board?
As the matter has intensified, political parties have also come forward to help the villagers. Trichy BJP leader Allur Prakash had said Tiruchendurai village is a picturesque agricultural village located on the southern bank of river Cauvery, where a large number of Hindus live. So why and how did the WAQF Board become the owner of the property of Tiruchanthurai village, when there is no connection between the two?
“There is the Manendiyavalli Sametha Chandrasekhara Swamy Temple, which also houses the holy ‘Padal Petra Sthalam’. It is believed that Lord Ranganatharam of Srirangam temple wakes up from his sleep in Tiruchanthurai village during the Adibrahmotsava festival of Panguni month.
Various documents and evidence show that this temple is about 1,500 years old. The temple has around 369 acres of land inside and outside Tiruchanthurai village. Will the Tamil Nadu WAQF Board declare its right over this land as well?”
There has also been growing resentment in the nearby villages on this subject. Locals are saying when we have land documents, how can the WAQF Board declare it as its property without any evidence? Even if the WAQF Board has issued a letter claiming the lands to be its own, how can the registrar department order not to register the deed without verifying the claims of the Waqf Board?
Did the WAQF Board take undue advantage of the judicial proceedings?
An official of the Registration Department of the Tamil Nadu government said they were informed that there were encroachments on several water bodies, WAQF board properties, and temple properties in the state. According to the department, anti-social elements had occupied these lands through forged documents, and several types of legal disputes had arisen between different people.
When the matter went to court, the judge criticized the government and directed it to take appropriate steps to recover the properties. Based on this, in 2016, the Tamilnadu government had taken measures to recover the properties. WAQF board also initiated action to take back its properties across Tamil Nadu. Based on this action, many villages, including Tiruchendurai and Kadiakurichi, have been identified as WAQF board properties, which was principally wrong.
Officials also said they will speak to the secretary of the minority welfare department and chairman of the WAQF Board on the subject. They admitted that referring to the Tiruchendurai temple and its related land as WAQF board property was absurd and they are facing problems over the denial of deed registration on the basis of the WAQF board’s letter.
Apart from villages like Tiruchanthurai and Kadiakurichi, Chennai and its surrounding areas also have the problem where land has been claimed by the Wakf Board. It does not seem right to say much on this subject right now, but it is clear that the WAQF Board has been given immense powers, and it wants to use them to grab the land of Hindus illegally.
On this subject, the Governments of other States should also take immediate action and check whether the Wakf Board is grabbing land in this way in their States also. The central government should also disband the WAQF Board by making strict laws, such religious institutions should not have any place in our country.