The Tamil Nadu Waqf Board claims the entire Hindu-majority village, including the temple lands, as its property

A veil of darkness has descended on the residents of Thiruchendurai village in Tiruchirapalli district as the Tamil Nadu Waqf Board reportedly claimed the entire village as its property.

The Tamil Nadu Waqf Board is a statutory body established under the Waqf Act of 1954 which oversees and manages Waqf institutions and administers Waqf properties.

Waqf property is movable and immovable property, dedicated by a person professing Islam, for any purpose recognized by Muslim law as pious, religious or charitable.

According to a report by the Tamil daily Dinamalar, a Rajagopal from Mullikarupur who owns farmland in the village of Thiruchendurai had reached an agreement to sell 1 acre 2 cents of his land to a Rajarajeshwari. He had gone to Joint Sub Registrar III office in Trichy to arrange the deed of purchase for ₹3.5 lakhs and have it registered.

However, the Deputy Registrar told him that the land could not be registered as it belonged to the Tamil Nadu Waqf Board. The Deputy Registrar had told him that he needed to obtain a “no objection certificate” from the Tamil Nadu Waqf Board office in Chennai to sell the land.

When Rajagopal asked why he needed to get a NOC from the Waqf Board to sell land he bought in 1992, the Deputy Registrar reportedly told him that was the procedure for any land to be sold in the village of Tiruchendurai. Apparently, the Waqf Council sent a letter to the Registration Department with documents stating that the whole village belongs to them and those who come to register a deed for land in the village should obtain a NOC from them.

He was also shown a copy of the 250-page letter from the Waqf Council on the matter. In this letter, the Waqf Board said that tens of thousands of acres of land all over Tamil Nadu belong to them.

Rajagopal then explained his ordeal to the people of Thiruchendurai village who are now worried about their lands being taken over by the Waqf Board.

They noted that when they already have the documents from revenue department including patta, chitta, adangal, “A” revenue record, charge certificate, how can Waqf council claim Thiruchenthurai village as his own property.

The matter was brought to the attention of the District Collector who reportedly ensured to look into the matter and make a decision accordingly.

Trichy BJP leader Allur Prakash had noted that the village of Thiruchendurai is a picturesque farming village located on the south bank of the Cauvery River where the vast majority of residents are Hindus. “What is the relationship between the Waqf Council and the village of Thiruchenthurai?” he said in the report.

“There is the Manendiyavalli Sametha Chandrasekhara Swamy temple, which has a ‘paadal petra sthalam. Various documents and evidence suggest that this temple is 1,500 years old. The temple owns 369 acres of land inside and outside the village of Tiruchenthurai. Does this temple land also belong to the Waqf Council? Prakash was quoted saying.

Lord Renganathar of Srirangam temple is believed to wake up in the village of Tiruchenthurai during the Adibrahmotsava festival in the month of Panguni.

“When an individual in the village holds the land documents, how can the Waqf Council declare that he is his property without any proof? Even if the Waqf Board issued a letter claiming that the land belongs to them, how can the senior officials of the Registration Department order not to register the deed without verifying the claims of the Waqf Board? »

The head of the Tamil Nadu government registration department, on his part, said there are encroachments on water bodies, Waqf Board properties and temple properties. The department says it received reports that, through false documents, unrelated people held the land and many of them were involved in legal disputes.

“The court criticized the government on the matter and ordered to take appropriate measures to recover the assets. Based on this, in 2016 the government took steps to recover the assets. Following this, the Waqf Boards stepped in to reclaim their properties all over Tamil Nadu. He sorted what he found to be his assets and notified them to the ministry. It also asked the registration service to stop any device for registering deeds concerning certain assets. It is on this basis that entire villages, including Thiruchendurai and Kadiakurichi, have been identified as Waqf Board properties,” said registration service officials quoted in the report.

The officials also said they will speak to the Secretary of the Minority Welfare Department and the Chairman of the Waqf Council.

They admitted that it is absurd to refer to the Thiruchendurai temple and the land belonging to it as Waqf Board properties and that they have encountered problems when deed registrations are to be refused on the basis of the letter from the Waqf Board.

Apart from villages like Thiruchenthurai and Kadiakurichi, Chennai and surrounding areas also have this problem where land has been claimed by the Waqf Board.

(This article was first published on La Commune in September 12, 2022, and has been republished with consent)