Srinagar: The State Human Rights Commission on Tuesday recommended a monthly salary of Rs 12,000 to imams and Rs 10,000 to muezzins who are performing their religious duties as fulltime job in Jammu and Kashmir.
The recommendations were made in a judgment announced by the acting chairman of the Commission Rafiq Fida on a complaint filed in the aftermath of a tragedy involving attempt to suicide by the wife of an imam last year after “slaughtering” her two kids, apparently due to abysmal living conditions.
“In view of the law governing the subject laid down by the Supreme Court and to protect the life and dignity of imams, the Commission feels duty bound to recommend to the government, J&K Muslim Wakaf Board and all other heads of Auqafs and mohallas in J&K to at least maintain and pay a minimum salary of Rs 12,000 to each imam and deputy imam and Rs. 10,000 to muezzins and Rs. 8000 to other persons who are performing their religious duties as fulltime job,” Fida said.
He said besides being in tune with the directions of the Supreme Court it would be at par with recommendations of the Sacher Commission.
The SHRC chairman said that copies of the order be forwarded to the state government through Chief Secretary, Commissioner Secretary, Department of Hajj & Auqaf, Chairman and Secretary J&K Muslim Wakaf Board and to all Patwaris and Ta’meelies of Police Department through district administration and district police.
The Commission asked the concerned to ensure that the judgment is distributed to each and every Head of Mohalla and Auqaf Committees in their respective districts and jurisdictions of police stations so as to enable heads of mohallas, Auqaf Committee, mosques and imams in the state to submit action taken report and proposed action taken report within specific time frame as provided under the SHRC Act.
The complainant, M M Shuja, General Secretary J&K People’s Forum, had highlighted that father of the ‘slaughtered’ kids was an imam leading the prayers at a local mosque at Bemina here, where he was paid an honorarium of Rs 5500 per month.
He along with the family, as per the complainant, was putting up in a godown-type shed completely ‘inhabitable for human beings.’
The complainant had submitted that an imam has always been treated and considered as a most respectable person in the society and has always been treated well by ‘Muslim Khulafa’ and rulers.
The requirements of imams, he had said, have always been met out from Bitu-ul-Maal (official treasury) in Muslim countries and by Muslim Waqf Boards in non-Muslim countries.
“In J&K, the Waqf Board has neither been able to evolve a need based policy regarding imams nor has been able to regulate the conditions of services of such respectable class of society and more than 55% of the income of the Waqf Board is spent for salary of the staff most of whom are retirees from government services, and many such retirees have been engaged in the Board on political considerations,” the complainant had said.
The complainant had also brought to the notice of Commission that Waqf Board is “taking on board” only those imams who are leading prayers in its affiliated mosques.
The complainant had further submitted that Muslim Waqf Board exists in almost all states of India including Rajasthan, a Hindu-dominated state.
“The state (Haryana) not only caters the requirements of imams but has also established an engineering college for Muslim minority in Mewar district, but in the State of J&K, Muslim Waqf Board has become an agency of the ruling party and has totally neglected the objectives for which it was constituted.”
The management of the mosques collects money on the eve of festivals and Ramadan from the people for imams, a “practice which reduces the position of imams’ worst than beggars by proxy and undermines the dignity and honor of such imams.”
Even the department of Hajj & Auqaf, the complainant had said, has not been able to regulate and enforce a system which would have governed the conditions of service of the imams.
“The department has neither been able to prevail upon the Waqf Board to improve its style of working,” the complainant had said, emphasizing that a National Level Commission has made a recommendation laying down the minimum wages of Rs 12,000 per month for imams which has not been implemented so far.