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Ajmer Sharif funds being siphoned off: Panel

Prof J S Bandukwala of M S University, part of a four-member committee set up to probe allegations of misappropriation of funds at Ajmer Sharif Dargah in Rajasthan...

Written by Syedkhaliqueahmed | Ahmedabad |
April 9, 2007 2:45:01 am

Prof J S Bandukwala of M S University, part of a four-member committee set up to probe allegations of misappropriation of funds at Ajmer Sharif Dargah in Rajasthan, said the panel has found high-level financial corruption at the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s dargah. Stating that the present situation at dargah could not be allowed to continue, he told The Indian Express that some change must be brought into the system, particularly in the management of the finances.

Citing the example of the Khwaja Bande Nawaz Dargah, he said a number of medical and engineering institutes have been set up at Gulbarga with the income from the dargah.

“If income from the Ajmer Dargah was channelised into educational purposes, we needn’t approach the government for money for schools and colleges,” said Bandukwala.

The probe panel has pointed out that people associated with the dargah were pocketing money coming by way of donations and gifts from devotees.

The committee was set up by the Ministry of Minority Affairs in September 2006 to look into the financial bungling at the dargah as well as to look into ways in which funds could be used for the welfare of society. The committee in its report submitted to the ministry recently noted that it was tragic that huge sums of money amounting to crores had been misused.

Though there was no data to support the exact amount coming into the dargah by way of donation, the committee report says the annual income of the dargah was no less than Rs 120 crore. The money was shared by 5,000 khadims, who claimed to be providing voluntary service to the dargah.

The committee has also reported that the Ajmer Sharif Dargah Committee managing the dargah properties had deliberately undervalued the rent of its shops and other places given to tenants. It said the State Bank of India’s branch housed in a building owned by the dargah committee was charged a monthly rent of mere Rs 100 against the market rent running into thousands of rupees. In several cases, officials of the dargah committee had also increased the lease period from 5 to 15 years to favour the tenants and thereby not accrue any financial benefits in return.

The panel recommended the ministry to examine the legal angle for spending the dargah’s funds for setting up of educational institutions and hospitals.

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