Kerala govt puts on hold the Waqf-PSC Act that saw widespread Muslim mobilisation

Kerala government puts on hold the Waqf-PSC Act that saw widespread Muslim mobilisation
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Photo: Manorama/File

Bowing to the collective pressure exerted by Muslim organisations, the LDF government has decided to temporarily freeze the implementation of the Kerala PSC (Additional Functions As Respects the Services Under the Waqf Board) Act, 2021, which sought to hand over recruitments to the Waqf Board to the Kerala Public Service Commission.

During a meeting with the leaders of Samastha Kerala Jamait-ul-Ulema here on Tuesday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government was in no hurry to implement the Act.

Vijayan stopped short of promising a withdrawal of the Act but said he was willing to hold detailed discussions with the Samastha or any other Muslim groups to allay all their concerns. Nonetheless, Samastha leaders believe that the Act would eventually be nullified.

"We will be fully satisfied only if the Act is withdrawn," Samastha general secretary K Ali Kutty Musliyar told reporters after meeting the chief minister on Tuesday.

Musliyar said that the Samastha had told the chief minister that it would not be advisable to unsettle the existing system of managing Waqf affairs. The Samastha leaders also told the chief minister of their main concern that the non-faithful could find themselves in a position to control the affairs of the Waqf Board if the new Act was implemented. They pointed out that officials appointed to handle Waqf properties endowed in the name of God should be religious believers.

Vijayan assured them that all such concerns would be addressed during the meeting that he has proposed with Muslim bodies. The chief minister also told the Muslim representatives that the decision to hand over Waqf appointments to the PSC was not a government initiative, and therefore, the government was not inflexible about its implementation.

Though the Law Department had issued a notification on November 14, follow up measures, including the drawing up of rules by the Waqf Board, have been frozen.

The government's sudden change of stand was apparently prompted by the organised might of the Muslim community. All sections of the community had come out against the government's move.

The Core Committee of Muslim organisations, including Samastha and Indian Union Muslim League, had even decided to use the occasion of Friday prayers to create awareness about the dangers of the involving the PSC in Waqf affairs.

The League refrained from using pulpits for a political sermon last Friday (December 3) after the Samastha's president Sayed Jifri Muthukkoya Thangal firmly put his foot against the use of mosques for any political activity. What swayed Jifri Thangal to temper his stance was the chief minister's timely offer of a compromise.

It is also not clear if the Core Committee would go ahead with the panchayat- and mahal-level agitations it had planned. "Further course of action will be decided by the Samastha leadership," Ali Kutty Musliyar said.

Samastha leaders K Umer Faizy Mukkam, Adrissery Hamsa Kutty Musliyar, Dr N A M Abdul Kader, Abdussamad Pukottur, K Moinkutty Master and Onampilly Muhammad Faizy also participated in the meeting.

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