Auqaf Market Shopkeepers Protest Against Waqf Board Action

Auqaf Market Shopkeepers Protest Against Waqf Board Action
  • Clear laibilities OR Vacate Waqf Shops

  • Sealing of shops was done in an illegal manner as the case pertaining to payment of rent is still sub-judice

Scores of shopkeepers at Auqaf Market in city centre staged protest against sealing of shops by the Waqf board

Firdous Ahmad, who heads Auqaf Market, said the Waqf officials sealed six shops in the market late Wednesday evening. “The whole market was closed when the officials sealed the shops. It was done in an illegal manner as the case pertaining to payment of rent is still sub-judice. Today, all the shopkeepers staged a peaceful protest against this move,” Firdous said.

Firdous said that in 2015, the rent was revised after a notice was shot by the officials. He said during the PDP-BJP government, the rent was revised as per an agreement. “After the agreement with the Waqf Board, there was a hike from 2018. The rent was hiked by five percent each year. Unfortunately, since last year the Waqf Board has been asking for a huge hike in rent again. If someone was paying Rs 2500 as rent per month, he is asked to pay around Rs 13,000. The matter is sub-judice ,” Firdous added.

The shopkeepers said that the court, in a recent interim order, asked them to pay 50 percent of the rent that is in the negotiation. “But as the matter is still in court, the Waqf officials, without any court order, sealed their shops,” shopkeepers said.

The aggrieved shopkeepers said that over 200 families depend on this market, and they want authorities to de-seal the shops.

Meanwhile, Chairperson of Jammu & Kashmir Waqf Board and Minister of State Dr Darakhshan Andrabi today received cheques from the shopkeepers whose shops were sealed by the Waqf Board yesterday evening. “Waqf Chairperson along with Waqf officers yesterday late evening sealed seven shops in Auqaf Market when despite many notices and warnings by the Waqf Chairperson to the defaulters, they failed to deposit their outstanding rent amount,” Waqf Board’s spokesperson said in a statement.

“It is pertinent to mention that the whole Market remained closed and protested against the Waqf decision. But Dr Andrabi rubbished their claims through media that even after the rent hike, the properties at Lal Chowk are rented out at a very marginal rate as compared to the rates in the business hub of Srinagar. She reiterated her stand that if the allottees don’t deposit the outstanding rent, shops will remain sealed,” it said.

The statement said later in the evening, Auqaf Market traders’ representatives called upon Dr Andrabi at her office and asked her to accept the part payment today only and agreed to clear all remaining pending rent dues within a month.

“Dr Andrabi after agreeing to the traders’ submission late evening today visited the market and received the cheques from the shopkeepers and unsealed the shops. Later speaking to the media Dr Darakhshan said that she was not against any one utilising Waqf property as per rules to earn his livelihood but she will not allow anybody to grab the finances or assets of the Waqf Board.”

“All allottees of Waqf Board properties are informed in clear words that no concession of time will be given to any defaulters. Clear liability amounts and retain the properties or vacate them, otherwise we will be sealing them and reauctioning them”, said Dr Andrabi.

Earlier talking with media persons, Andrabi termed the shopkeepers whose shops were sealed as “illegal occupants.” “The shops that were sealed were without rent deeds or leases and had expired long back. Their payment of over six lakh rupees is also pending,” Andrabi added.

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