Suhail A Shah
Anantnag: On the day Sartaj Madni resigned from the post of Vice President of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Auqaaf Committee here in Dooru Shahabad in Anantnag district held protests against the politician and his son, accusing them of “grabbing” Wakf land.
The protests were held against Madni and his son, Aroot Madni. Aroot was recently in news for his “backdoor appointment” in the state Khadi & Village Industries Board (KVIB).
Aroot had “declined” the job offer after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti ordered a high-level probe into the appointment.
According to members of the Auqaaf Committee in Dooru, Wakf land measuring 4 kanals and 12 marlas was leased out to Aroot at a mutually agreed rent of 1 lakh rupees per year, with a 5 per cent increment every year.
The Auqaaf Committee said that Aroot established a car sales and service centre by the name of “Noble Garage” on the land.
“After much ado, he paid us 2.5 lakh rupees after about two years. He still owes the rest of the money and the contract has already expired in the year 2016,” President of the Auqaaf Committee, Mukhtar Ahmad Wani, said.
He said that neither Madni nor his son Aroot paid heed to repeated reminders to pay the money they owed or else, vacate the land.
“In the meantime, the garage was set ablaze and there was huge embezzlement of insurance money as well as bank loans,” Auqaaf members alleged.
Despite that, the members said, Aroot is now demanding a sum of 7 lakh rupees from the Auqaaf Committee to vacate the land.
“It’s atrocious and preposterous on their part to ask for money. They should have vacated the land long back. Instead, they are seeking money from us,” the members said.
Following today’s protest, the members presented a memorandum to the area’s Tehsildar, Muzaffar Hussain Malik.
Malik told Kashmir Reader that a memorandum was presented to him today. “I am not fully aware of the whole scenario. I have sought time of two days so that I can look into the matter and take decisions accordingly,” Malik said.
Madni, when contacted, said that he was not fully aware of the details but he knows that the Auqaaf committee had agreed to pay an amount of 7 lakh rupees to his son.
“I will ask him (Aroot) to call you and he will explain,” Madni said.
Aroot did not call the reporter; however, his younger brother, Saqib Madni, did. He said that he was the one who ran the business in Dooru.
Saqib said that he was seeking an extension to the contract which the committee was delaying for reasons better known to them.
“Finally, I agreed to vacate the land. I did not want compensation for any of my machinery there. I only sought money for the boundary wall I had erected on the land and the land filling cost,” Saqib said.
He said that after many meetings, the committee agreed to pay a sum of 7 lakh rupees to him so that he could vacate the place.
“After that, I sent repeated reminders to them, but they did not pay the money. Since some time there has been no communication over the issue and today, out of the blue, they held protests,” he said.
Saqib said his father’s name was being maligned with falsehoods. “It was I who ran the business there. We agreed upon terms for that. They should not have dragged my father’s name into it,” he said.
He, however, acknowledged that he had not paid any rent after the initial 2.5 lakh rupees, which he said was due to “losses incurred” during and after the 2016 unrest.