A plot of land allotted for socially useful activities remains underutilized merely because the two contending groups cannot come to terms about its administration and use.
By A Staff Writer
Bangalore: A Civic Amenities (CA) site allotted to the Muslim community of Vishveshwaraiah Nagar in the quiet neighbourhood of R. T. Nagar in the city has become a bone of contention between Muslim residents of the colony and a clutch of powerful families. The 26,000 sq. ft. plot of land which was allotted for setting up a madrassa and other religious institutions by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) on March 1, 1994 has come to be monopolized by a 27-member committee, all of whom belong to just five families residing there.
The BDA as part of its policy had allotted CA sites for use for religious and cultural purposes to Hindus, Muslims and Christians in 1994 even as the colony was just coming up in the early 1990s. The plot of land for Muslims was registered in the name of Vishweshwaraiah Nagar Muslim Education Society. The Society then had nearly 90 members who elected one Mr. Abdul Sattar, a retired employee of the HMT and a resident of the area as the President. It is widely acknowledged that Sattar had played a leading role in gathering contributions from the members of the community.
While the members of the Hindu and Christian communities constructed a temple and a church, the plot of land allotted to the Muslims remained idle with no activity whatsoever for long time. Due to paucity of funds, the residents were not even able to raise a fencing wall around the property. On their appeal, realtor and social worker Feroze Abdulla arranged and mobilised the funds to raise a compound wall around the year 2000.
All in the Family
But with each passing year, Mr. Sattar and his family members and some close associates have established a grip over the property, rejecting advices for its social and productive use for the community. The General Body of the Society was never convened and the management got monopolized in the hands of a 27-member executive body. The executive committee currently has Mr. Abdul Sattar, his six sons, Mr. Mohammed Fazlullah and his three sons, Mr. Rahmatullah Sharieff and his son, Mr. Mohammad Ismail and his two sons, Mr. Abdul Mukhtadir and his two sons and Mr. Naveed Pasha and his brother.
Signature of Absentees
Curiously, six of the executive members are working abroad, yet their signatures could be found affixed on the resolution passed by the executive committee which meets regularly. Even the treasurer Mr. Shakeel Ahmad also lives in the United States.
Although, a prayer hall has come up and is functional in the premises, the namazis other than the executive members are brusquely reminded to keep off the administrative affairs of the property and not to poke their noses. Those who raised questions about the functioning of the society have often been rebuked and told to mind their own business. There was an attempt to even parcel off a portion of the plot to be leased out to a commercial firm but the move was withdrawn following the objection from the Muslim residents of the locality. Meanwhile, a two-storey building measuring 40 x 40 feet was also constructed in a corner of the premises but has lain unused. Mr. Sattar and his associates even refuse the building to be used for community Iftar during month of Ramazan.
Meanwhile, they even registered a trust named Al-Noor Education and Charitable Trust with the address of the premises and a board to this effect could be seen hung on the outer side of the compound wall for several months. Residents point out that the group monopolizing the community property tried to set up an English medium school. It is well known that English medium schools in upmarket localities of Bangalore yield good revenue. Being non-profit organizations, they allow the managements to access the funds at will and also let out the premises for the marriages and other social purposes on weekends. Residents complain that Sattar and his associates parade themselves as the owners of the property and reject all claims of the members who had contributed generously all these years. Collection of monthly contribution from some of the members who raised objection against the mysterious ongoings with regard to the property were stopped. Contributions for the Al-Noor Trust were even collected from some members working abroad.
Things came to a head last year when a resident Mohammad Imaad representing nearly a hundred residents of the locality who were disgusted with the non-cooperative attitude of Mr. Sattar and his associates, preferred a petition to the Registrar of the Societies against the henpecked executive committee member on December 5, 2013. They alleged that signatures of as many as nine members were being forged to show their presence in the committee meetings. It further complained that names of some of the members of the Society (i.e., Vishweshwaraiah Nagar Muslim Education Society) were deleted in 2011 and 2012 while submitting the annual report to the Registrar of the Societies. The petition prayed to find out as to how six members of the committee who always lived abroad were shown present in all the meeting of the executive with their signatures.
Case of Forgery
In a separate development, a resident, one Dr. Syed Ziaullah Pasha lodged a case (PCR No. 7591/14) under section 200 Cr. P. C. in a criminal court for his signature being forged at least thrice in the documents of the Society.
In yet another surprising move, the executive committee inducted a former IG of police as its Secretary although he was a resident of Thanisandra. While countering the allegations by Imaad Ahmed in his letter dt. April 4, 2014 the new secretary had said the allegations were ill-founded and denied that any member with the name Imaad Ahmed existed in the committee. Contrastingly, the residents of the locality allege that choice of the retired police officer as the new Secretary was itself mischievous as he never lived there in the locality. Interestingly, nine years ago the same police official (while in service) had approached the Vishweswaraiahnagar Muslim Education Society to let out the premises to him to set up an English medium school. But Mr. Sattar and his associates had denied him the consent fearing his police post becoming an albatross around the neck of the Society.
Due to the booming real estate in Bangalore, the plot of land may cost nearly Rs. 25 crore in today’s market. The intransigence by Mr. Sattar and his associates to allow an all-representative body to conduct the Society’s affairs has ensured that the prime assets remains underutilized even though an English medium school, a madrassa and library besides the existing mosque could well serve the socio-cultural needs of the community. The haughty behavior of the executive committee has led to a cold war for nearly a decade which disallows any productive use of the property.
Muhammad Faziullah, Secretary of the Society responds:
Frustrated Outpourings of Unconcerned People
Vishweshwariah Nagar layout was developed by HMT House Building Coop Society (HBCS) as a residential layout for its employees, and accordingly residential sites were originally allotted only to the HMT employees. Within the HBCS layout, community land was reserved for Hindus, Muslims and Christians along-with space for parks / play ground etc.
After the layout was developed, HMT HBCS handed over Vishweshwariah Nagar Layout to BDA. The members of Hindu and Christian communities among the HMT employees managed to claim the allotted space quite easily and built a temple and a church. But the BDA rejected the claim from the HMT Muslim Employees for a mosque on the plea that there were already seven mosques within one kilometer radius. The HMT Muslim employees then started a society under the name Vishweshwariah Muslim Education Society and all its Muslim employees became its members, then re-applied to BDA to secure the land reserved for Muslims for education purposes within HMT HBCS layout. The BDA carried out the verification to this effect by going through supporting documents. Finally, they allotted a CA site under HMT HBCS as an Arabic School on a lease of 30 years.
Since the BDA was pestering for immediate payment and registration, and the members of the society were retired and without resources, they ran from pillar to post. They were turned back by even the members of the AGs Colony and SBM colony. Finally the HMT Muslim employees managed to raise funds and after paying a lump-sum fees and registration for a 30-year lease, BDA issued a possession certificate and the CA site was finally secured by the HMT Muslim Employees. This testifies to the fact that only the Muslim Employees of the HMT were entitled to apply and claim the site.
It is only a handful of people, basically (who are not HMT Employees or their wards) are making fictitious and baseless allegations that the Committee is under the grip of a few families.
Since the Vishweshwariah Nagar Muslim Education Society was formed solely by Muslim Employees of HMT, it was open for membership for all the Muslim employees of HMT and naturally that their wards will become automatic members of the Society. Thus all the Muslim employees of HMT from Vishweshwariah Nagar layout are registered original members and it was not limited to a few families. Thus the charge of monopolizing the space by a few families is baseless.
Further the statement that six of the society’s executive members are working abroad is untrue. There are only five office bearers of the Society currently i.e. President (Abdul Sattar); Vice-President (Rahmatullah Shariff); Secretary (Mohd. Fazlullah); Joint Secretary (Rasheed Aslam); Treasurer (Shakeel Ahmed supported by Mr. Abdul Majid) who are all HMT Employees and their wards and domicile residents of Vishweshwariah Nagar Layout. So this statement is baseless that the executive members of the Society are living abroad?
Compound wall: This probably is the only Muslim organization which has secure
d the property with a 7 feet high stone wall in Bangalore. Even the raising of wall was objected by the police and politicians, but the BDA intervened and confirmed the ownership of the property. Majority of funds were contributed by the HMT employees only. And of course, Mr. Feroze Abdulla was a well-wisher and he made an initial contribution towards the compound wall construction.
Prayer Hall: The original hall measuring 35 x 35 ft. was built as per BDA approval for the purpose to run an Arabic School. Since the Muslims in the adjacent layouts were praying in a house, (as the Mosques were quite far away), we invited them and gave permission to utilize the existing Arabic
School hall to conduct five times daily prayers. Subsequently the Jummah prayers were also started and a full-time Imam and Muezzin were appointed. The existing hall fell short and many of the Namzis had to pray outside. We made arrangements to put up a pandal for Friday prayerrs.
Raising funds: It has been an uphill task to mobilize funds right from registrations until the current construction like any social organizations. Many powerful individuals and organizations approached us with offering help but had vested interest of taking over the property itself. All these proposal were rejected. It was then decided to raise funds from within the HMT Muslim employees first and also through known friends and relatives. Thus the Society starting raising funds from DAY ONE with contributions mainly coming from the HMT employees itself. Thus the prayer hall measuring 35 x 70 feet was constructed and all the constructions cost of this prayer hall were borne by our President, Mr. Abdul Sattar. Like-wise arrangements were made for ablution, toilets, house for muezzin was built and donated by our Vice President Mr. Rahmatullah Shariff. Rest of the construction i.e. Office / store room / Imaam’s House / a 40 x 40 ft. building etc., were built with generous contributions by all the office bearers and our member, Mr. Naveed Pasha played the leading role in its construction.
Facilities Constantly Enhanced:
Iftaar arrangements are being made during the month of Ramazan for the last few years. However, the committee refused to allow personal Iftaar parties for which there were requests from Dr. Zia. It was also made amply clear that no group would be allowed to use the facility as it was likely to disturb the peaceful ambience of the neighbourhood. People like Dr. Zia and Imaad were persistent in their request to allow their personal friends and groups to carry out their activities including overnight stay. Dr. Zia even wanted to start a clinic in this newly constructed building.
JV proposal in the past:
Yes, there were proposals for several ventures like starting IRF School by Dr. Zakir Naik, Oasis International School by Tameem Ahmed etc. Unfortunately all of them wanted the property to be transferred to their organizations, which was not permissible by BDA. Hence none of the above proposals could go through. The allegation by Mr. Imaad and Dr. Zia with regard to an attempt to parceling a portion of land, is an absolute lie. We are constantly engaging in discussions and are open for negotiations with like minded organizations and individuals who can assist in partnering for a common cause, off-course under the frame-work and guidelines of BDA.
Frustrated Individuals:All along Nayeem and Zia and their associates have been mere spectators and they have not contributed for any funds towards construction and it is clear they now have vested interest to hijack this secured property.
It is to be clarified that neither Nayeem Ur Rahman or his Sons Imad or Fahad are members of the society as they are neither HMT employees or their wards nor they are residents of Vishweshwariah Nagar Layout. They are basically frustrated residents of adjacent SBM layout who failed to secure any land for Muslims within their own layout. Along with Zia they are now a nuisance creating trouble after Friday prayers by bringing in crowd from within the neighborhood. Further they are intimidating and threatening the Imaam and Muezzin and also the HMT Muslim employees and it’s committee members with dire consequences. The rest of the Muslims from adjacent layouts by and large are peaceful and they express gratitude for the facilities provided to them by the HMT Employees. It is very clear that these handful of individuals are basically outsiders and trouble makers, who are intervening in our activities and not vice-versa.
Dr. Ziaullah Pasha, originally a resident from Mysore, moved into our neighborhood, and made a proposal to start a Nursing home as his wife is a gynecologist and was running a clinic in a cramped house close to the CA site. He also proposed to establish a full- fledged hospital and submitted a report with the help of all the Muslim Doctors from the neighborhood. Second time his proposal was rejected as allowing a clinic would violate the BDA guidelines. Since then Zia along with Nayeem’s family have been frustrated and have been making false and baseless accusations including serving lawyer notice for which we are initiating legal action.
All our Members since 1987 are working tirelessly to uplift the community and we are ashamed that they have stooped down to such a low level of abusing and using filthy language after offering Namaaz, disrupting the peace and tranquility of the area in particular and community at large. They are using the pretext of Mohalla, and trying all modes to get back door entry into the society.
We sincerely thank Islamic Voice for giving us an opportunity to share the facts and TRUTH, which exposes the real intention of Nayeem ; Dr. Zia and his associates of their vested interest and we apologize our members and peaceful neighbors for their patience for the inconvenience caused, during this crisis period of unwanted defamation, which is being experienced 24/7.
We have great plans to pursue education within the frame-work of BDA, by establishing school; language center; understanding Quran classes etc., and we pray Allah(SWT) to give us Hidaya and guidance so that we can accomplish our aims and objectives, We hope this reply should satisfy all the readers of your esteemed paper. It is rather a noble gesture on your part to have approached the Committee for clarification before publishing the one-sided story.