Let us welcome the Waqf move
Shrines across Kashmir have been attracting huge footfall owing to the fact that people from all sects and communities hold them in high esteem. Over the years the inclination of the people to visit these shrines of various sufi saints has increased and with it the offerings the devotees offer at these places has also increased tremendously.
Though the shrines across Kashmir were managed by local care takers or Mujavirs but some years back a formal shape given to Waqf board meant that the overall maintenance and well being of these shrines was handed over to the board which served to fulfill the various requirements of these shrines.
However, the shrines had other local care takers who would occupy spaces at these places and would take way the major contributions of the devotees and this was being experienced across the Kashmir valley.
Since the Waqf board has decided to end the hegemony of these Mujavirs by disallowing or simply banning their collection practices, the issue has come up for serious discussion with many people, including some political parties raising their voice to support the local care takers.
The issue of banning collection by these local caretakers was initiated as they indulge in forcible collections and in most of the cases compel the visitors or the devotees to offer money and other offerings at the designate places these local care takers have occupied.
This system led to loss for the Waqf board as the local care takers manage to spin away huge amounts of offerings which they simply use for their personal ends. Even various reports have come to the fore where the local care takers would lease their places to some people against huge amounts and this family business continued to make them richer by each passing day.
The ban order issued by the Waqf board has meant that all such practices will come to halt and the offerings will directly go into the kitty of the Waqf board and the unwanted hindrance into the day to day affairs of the shrines will no longer be witnessed.
The move though a welcome one now needs to be executed in a planned way so that the offerings at these shires is utilized not only to upgrade the services and other utilities there but also it should help in building infrastructure that benefits the community at large.
We have the example of Baba Ghulam Shah Badsah Shine at Rajouri where the local Waqf managed to utilize the contributions made at the shrine to build a full fledged University which is presently catering to thousands of students who are getting educated there.
Similarly many such ideas can be worked out here as well as the contribution made by devotees is huge enough to feed such initiatives. The move by the Waqf board needs applause from the civil society as well but at the same time Waqf should initiate forming a committee which will include members from the civil society who can devise plans to utilize the offerings in such a way that it will benefit the society at large.