There is talk in the corridors of power that the Telangana government is expected to take a call on the Manikonda Jagir case in the next few weeks which sounds incredulous.
It is said that the government has two main proposals before it. The first one being that the government should give away the undistributed land of Manikonda Jagir or the land that has been endowed to Dargah Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali.
The total wakf or endowed land parcel in this case is 1,654 acres and 32 guntas. Around half of the land parcel has been given away or sold by the previous Telugu Desam Party and the Congress governments to a number of MNCs, national and local organizations for setting up IT and IT related firms and businesses. At the time of giving away the land, the government believed that the revenue department was the owner of the property. Later, the AP State Wakf Board woke up from its slumber and claimed that the property had been endowed to Dargah Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali some 150 years.
This led to a clash between the government and the board which went up to the AP High Court which upheld the right of wakf board over the land some five years ago. However, the high court judgement was challenged in the Supreme Court. The then Congress government had requested the solicitor general to represent its stand on the court while some private parties had appointed leading lawyers. The wakf board, on its part, had also taken a strong stand by appointing a panel of advocates from Hyderabad as well as Delhi. But the zeal it had shown in the beginning got diluted with the time. And for the last two years there is hardly any move on the front.
The wakf board believes that only half of the 1,654 acre land has been given away and the remaining is still with the revenue department. But, the managing committee of the dargah had said that the undistributed land with the government is only to the extent of about 400 acres.
Whatever be the truth, both the board and the committee wish that the vacant land should be handed over to them, jointly or separately.
The other proposal before the government is two-fold. It should withdraw from contesting the case in the Supreme Court and give away the land to Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation after reaching an understanding with the wakf board. The thinking of the government is that if the land is handed over to the wakf board, it will open a floodgate of court cases thereby making the board incapable of making any gainful use of the land.
The main party that is opposed to this proposal is dargah managing committee which has been claiming that while the board was sleeping on the matter, it was the panel that took up the case and began reclaiming the land.
There were several pre-poll promises that the TRS had made with the minority voters. The top on the list was providing 12 percent reservation to the Muslims in educational institutions and government jobs. This was perhaps the most difficult promise the TRS leadership had made. Though it has formed a commission of enquiry to prepare ground for giving the promised reservation, there appears no way that it could achieve this objective. There are several other promises that the ruling party had made, chief among, which is to protect the land parcels endowed to wakf institutions and other properties and make them beneficial to the community.
This is where Manikonda Jagir case comes into the picture. If the government would like to show to its Muslim constituents that it has begun working on this front, it has to take some quick decisions. The two-year wait for some movement on the Jagir case is a bit too long.
The first move of the government could be to call a meeting of wakf board and the committee and tell them clearly that they should come up with a united stand before it takes a call on the land under its possession. The government should desist from handing over the land to the State Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation. It is fraught with nothing but dangers. The second step could be to withdraw from being a party in the case before the Supreme Court. At the same time, it has to begin working on plans on how to compensate the wakf board for the land which has already been given or sold away to various parties.
Sitting on the Manikonda Jagir case without showing any real progress for long could add to the volatility of the case and it may explode in the face of TRS government sooner than its apprehension.