New Delhi: A fact-finding report by the Delhi Minorities Commission has recommended legal proceedings against BJP MP Parvesh Verma after finding that his claims about mosques and graveyards being illegally built on encroached government land were false.
On 11 July, Verma had handed over a list of 51 mosques, two graveyards, and two shrines in his constituency to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, claiming all of them were built illegally on government land.
The commission’s fact-finding panel visited each of the spots to examine the status and said there were sufficient grounds to initiate “legal proceedings against sitting MP for making false claims, spreading rumours to target a particular community and creating communal disharmony in Delhi”.
The DMC also claimed that mosques were being targeted with an eye on the upcoming assembly elections in the national capital.
In response, Verma told ThePrint: “I raised the issue in Parliament as well. Who is the Minority Commission to even carry out this survey? It doesn’t quite come in their domain or jurisdiction.
“If I had to ask the Delhi government or the Minority Commission to look into it, I could have written to them directly. Agar chor ko hi chori ka haal nikalne ko kahoge, toh kya hi niklega (If you ask a thief to solve the problem of theft, what will come out of it?).”
Verma wanted DMs to conduct inquiry
In his letter to Baijal, Verma had sought an inquiry into the ‘encroachment’ and ‘unauthorised construction’ by the respective district magistrates.
He said he himself had conducted the survey of areas where graveyards and mosques have come up on land belonging to Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, gram sabhas, the flood department, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and municipal corporations.
Taking cognisance of Verma’s allegations, the DMC had set up a fact-finding committee to check his claims.
The committee visited 58 masjids, 3 mazaars, 3 madrasas, 3 graveyards, and one imambara, including the sites mentioned in Verma’s list, across the South-West, West, North-West and North districts of Delhi.
The report states that another BJP MP, Manoj Tiwari, has been making similar claims about other areas of Delhi.
What the panel found
The report stated that some of the graveyards, masjids and madrasas belonged to the Delhi Waqf Board. Another graveyard, “allocated by the Delhi Government’s Urban Development Ministry in 2005”, was used as a burial ground until 14 November 2017, after which people were stopped from burying their dead there. Most of the graves there have been vandalised and desecrated, a member of the committee said Thursday.
In the case of 23 masjids and the imambada, it was learnt that the applications of allotment of land were submitted to the land-owning authority, but no action was taken. The report highlights that since there was no space allocated for places of worship in resettlement colonies, people of different faiths built their places of worship on land available.
In a few other cases, matters are sub-judice, while eight places have either been listed with incorrect addresses or the plots were vacant.
The panel has suggested that a complaint be filed against Verma with the Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee. It has also urged the Delhi government to ensure a zero-tolerance policy against those spreading hate and incitement to violence against particular communities.
It talked of many people who had been evicted and relocated in resettlement colonies, had not been given ownership titles for the land.
“Places of worship of all faiths built in these resettlement colonies need to be regularised,” it said, adding that the authorities concerned should process applications at the earliest.
ThePrint also learnt that the panel has recommended that the Delhi Waqf Board be an elected body with periodic elections among the Muslim community, just like gurudwaras.