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Monday, January 24, 2022

Waqf Board stakes claim on Bet Dwarka, residence of Sri Krishna?

It was reported that Waqf Board had approached the Gujarat High Court (HC) staking claim on two Bet Dwarka islands. The HC, however, refused to hear the application and expressing its displeasure it hit out saying “Are you aware of what you are saying? How can Waqf Board claim ownership of land in Krishnanagari?”

Bet Dwarka cluster comprises of 8 small islands to which the Sunni Waqf Board has reportedly staked claims. They have claimed that the land on the nearby islands in Bet Dwarka belong to the Waqf Board. The High Court was upset with their claim and asked them to reread their application while adding that they were to submit another revised application in vacation court.

“Bet Dwarka or Beyt Dwarka was the residence of Shri Krishna during the time he ruled Gujarat. It is a small island off the coast of Dwarka and one needs to take about 30 minute boat-ride from Okha. The small island is inhabited by about 7,000 families of which about 6,000 families are Muslim families. Bet Dwarka is one of the holy pilgrimage sites for Hindus”, says OpIndia.

Twitterati Bharadwaj (@BharadwajSpeaks) has highlighted how Muslims have brought out demographic changes in the region by surrounding the Hindu pilgrimage site. He has also pointed out that a number of mosques have come up in the region encircling Dwarka where excavations in the 80s has revealed the existence of an ancient civilization and that the place is indeed Dwarka of Mahabharata era.

In the meanwhile, Jamnagar BJP MP Ponam Maadan has said that there appears to be some confusion regarding the claims due to the usage of the term ‘Krishnanagari’ as the claim has been made for Shiyal Bet and not Bet Dwarka.

Another OpIndia report in this regard says:

BJP MP from Jamnagar, Poonamben Maadan, has issued clarification that the Waqf Board has staked claim on Shiyal Bet in Amreli and not the two islands in Bet (or Beyt) Dwarka as reported earlier. Shiyal Bet is an island off Amreli coast in Gujarat which is accessible only through boat. Shiyal Bet has a population of little over 5,000 people. Only in 2016 did the village get electricity connection, 70 years after India’s independence.

At the eastern end of Shiyal Bet, there is a rocky island called Savai Bet, which is detached during high tide. There is a tomb of a Pir (Muslim saint) called Savai Pir on that island. The petition was for the Savai Pir Dargah.

Shiyal Bet is part of Amreli district while Bet Dwarka is part of Devbhoomi Dwarka district.

Speaking to Gujarati news channel GSTV, Maadan said that she spoke to the law minister regarding the case and added that prima facie it appears the confusion was created over the usage of ‘Krishnanagari’ by the bench in Gujarat High Court in response to the application to stake claim of the island. She said that because of the reference to ‘Krishnanagari’, people might have wrongly assumed it to be Bet Dwarka, but there is still confusion. “However, as long as we are concerned, we are watchful of the developing situation. I assure you that we will not anyone stake claim on the island at Bet Dwarka which belongs to Shri Krishna and his devotees,” she said.

At this point, it is also important to highlight the complicity of the secular Bharatiya state in aiding waqf board to stake claim to any property that it deems to belong to itself. If waqf board “believes” any property to be waqf property, the onus is on property holder to prove that it is not waqf property.

Bet Dwarka
PC: Bharadwaj Speaks Twitter Page

This essentially means that the waqf board can simply claim any property and the property owner will have to prove his ownership. Doesn’t this amount to encouraging land grab by the waqf?

(Featured Image Source: OpIndia)

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