//And now, graveyard grabbing

And now, graveyard grabbing

DH News Service Lucknow:
In UP’s politics, Azam Khan equals controversy.

The news making minister for parliamentary affairs and urban development in the Mulayam Singh Yadav government has now been stung by a television channel for forcibly occupying, among other properties, land that rightfully belongs to a graveyard in Rampur, Mr Khan’s native town.

According to reports, Mr Khan has occupied one and a half acres of land, worth Rs 2 crore, in the middle of the town. The land, registry number 311/1 is shown in records as graveyard land that is under the care of the district magistrate.

The plot has been registered in the name of Mr Khan’s wife Tanzim Fatima and his son Mohammed Adeeb Azam. Mr Khan brought the said property for Rs 1,90,000 from one Shaheen. A shopping complex is now coming up on the land.

In addition Mr Khan has in his name three Awas Vikas flats meant for the middle income group. Technically these flats can be allotted only to those who have an annual income of Rs 80,000, while Mr Khan nets almost Rs 20 lakhs a year.

But support for Mr Khan has sprung up almost immediately with the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board chairman Hafiz Usman claiming that the property initially belonged to the Board but was acquired by the state’s housing development authority, the Awas Vikas in 1998 after leaving a certain portion to house the graveyard. “The allegations levelled against Mr Khan are absurd and baseless. There were unauthorised occupants initially who were then removed by the district administration. It could be that the land use has not been changed in the records as yet,” Mr Usman said in Lucknow on Wednesday.

But the Opposition was quick to grab the opportunity to point to the breakdown of law and order in the state.

Chief Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh demanded a probe into the allegations.

BJP spokesperson Hriday Narayan Dixit accused Mr Khan of behaving as though he was the lord of all government property. “The SP has started a conspiracy of land and bungalow grabbing.”