Sordid Politicisation

Sordid Politicisation
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A supremely socio-religious institution of Jammu and Kashmir, the Waqf board, has been unduly politicised. This sad truth has meant and led to the decay of this wonderful institution into a source of disbursal of political patronage by the political players. The original raison d’etre of the Waqf board was maintenance of the shrines, their upkeep and security and welfare for the needy and the indigent- like orphans widows and so on, among other things. The board then was a welfare organisation, among other hats of a socio-religious institution it wore. However, given that the centre of gravity of Jammu and Kashmir, the Kashmir valley, was/is a predominantly Muslim populated region, the Waqf board, given its rationale and remit , was sought to be monopolised by politicians. It, unfortunately, gradually morphed into an instrument for patronage disbursal for them. Be it the appointment(s) of its heads, or as a source of some employment and through its control of shrines and so on, the Waqf board became politicised. All this got reflected in its workings, management and ultimately its nature as a socio-religious welfare organisation. This damaged the structure and organisation of the board and ultimately its remit and working. If a parallel may be drawn with the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board(VDSB) and the Waqf board, the Waqf’s workings do not hold to scrutiny and pale in comparison to that of the former. The Vaishno Devi Shrine Board now even runs a university. The reason(s) for this pertain to the fact that the VDSB has not been politicised and its management and board members run it as it ought to be run: a an apolitical socio-religious body meant for the welfare of the masses. The Waqf Board is the exact opposite of this. All this constitutes a travesty not only because an historical, socio-religious body has been badly politicised but also because this politicisation hampers its working thereby working against its original rationale and thus hurting the interests and the welfare of the poor and the needy. It is high time then that the Waqf Board be restored to its pristine glory and it function as a real body and a socio- religious organisation. One immediate step that can be taken towards this end is to ensure or even impose transparency and accountability in its workings. The Board must be made open to vigorous public scrutiny and its members be selected from the ablest and persons of scrupulous honesty and integrity. Once this is done, the structural and organisational issues of the Board must be addressed. The operating principle that must inform this cleaning of the Board must be to depoliticise the institution and make it conform to its ideas and original rationale(s). Let the process begin now and let our very own Waqf board be a model of probity, honesty, transparency, efficiency and equity.

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