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Minister Rahman Khan under probe in wakf money scandal

The probe against the Minorities Minister began before he was sworn in on 28 October.

GOVIND KRISHNAN V.  Bangalore | 10th Nov 2012

India's new cabinet minister K. Rahman Khan (R) takes an oath of office as Indian President Pranab Mukherjee (L) looks on during a swearing-in ceremony at The Presidental Palace in New Delhi on October 28, 2012. | AFP

ahman Khan, who took over as Minister for Minority Affairs in the latest Union Cabinet re-shuffle, is being investigated by the Karnataka Lokayukta for allegedly conniving in the misappropriation of wakf funds.

Following an order by the Lokayukta court in Bijapur district, the police registered an FIR against Rahman Khan and other members of the Karnataka Wakf board in September for aiding the mutavalli (caretaker) of the Syed Khazim dargah to misappropriate funds belonging to the shrine. A Lokayukta spokesperson refused to comment on the progress of the investigation but confirmed that Khan was among the wakf officials whose involvement is being probed. Khan has been booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Wakf Act and IPC Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant), 120(b) (conspiracy) and Section 467 (forgery), among others.

The Lokayukta investigation in the Syed Khazim dargah case has renewed attention on Rahman Khan's alleged involvement in the massive and systematic encroachment of wakf property in the state — a scam that has been estimated in a recent report by the Karnataka State Minorities Commission at Rs 2 lakh crore. After Rahman Khan's ascension to the Union Cabinet, Anwar Manippady, the chairman of the State Minorities Commission has openly accused Khan of being one of the masterminds of the scam. "Rahman Khan is involved in the wakf property scam. He has worked with his associates in the wakf board to sell off wakf property by issuing no objection certificates to various mutavallis in charge of the property. They also de-notified wakf land to facilitate illegal sale or simply disowned property so that it could be sold commercially," Manippady told this newspaper.

In April, Manippady submitted a 7,000-page report to the then Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda detailing the encroachments of wakf land and property by Muslim politicians, businessmen and prominent leaders of the community. The report estimated the total value of wakf land in the state at Rs 4 lakh crore. Of the 54,000 acres of registered wakf land, the report concluded that a staggering 22,000 acres have been encroached upon illegally. Land worth thousands of crore had been sold off at throwaway prices in a collusion between the real estate mafia, wakf officials and politicians.

The report indicts Rahman Khan for the loss suffered to the wakf board in leasing out prime land located near the CM's house in Bangalore, to the ITC group's Windsor Manor Hotel. While the total property value is estimated to be over Rs 1,500 cr, the ITC group was given a 90-year lease at Rs 4,000 per month. The hotel currently pays Rs 7,500 a month for a land area of more than 165,000 square feet in the heart of Bangalore. Apart from the wakf scam report, a 1999 legislature report of the Karnataka Assembly concluded that in executing the Windsor Manor lease, "The Wakf board officials showed anxiety to lease the property for 90 years (rules stipulate only 30 years) to benefit an individual company."

While the report has not been tabled in the Assembly even after six months of submission, portions of it which have been made available to the media names several prominent political figures. They include Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, former Chief Minister Dharam Singh, MLAs Roshan Baig, Tanveer Sait, N.A. Haris, Qamrul Islam and former Union minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief.

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