Haj pilgrims caught in fight over Nizam's Makkah buildings
Hyderabad, Aug 3 (IANS) Over 350 Haj pilgrims selected for free accommodation in the 'rubath' (buildings) of the former Nizam of Hyderabad in Makkah are caught in a fight between the property's caretaker and the Wakf Committee over the right to choose the beneficiaries.
Mohammed Hussain Al-Shareef, 'nazer' or caretaker of the two 'rubath' in the Saudi Arabian holy city, last week conducted an online draw of lots to select 367 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The two buildings can accommodate 408 pilgrims but the caretaker has set aside 10 percent for the Nizam's family members.
The Nizam's Wakf Committee has, however, refused to accept the draw conducted by Al-Shareef, saying he has no powers to do so. As in the past, the committee plans to go ahead with manual draw of lots this month to select the pilgrims for the upcoming Haj season.
While Al-Shareef claims to draw authority from a Makkah court order to provide accommodation to pilgrims, the Wakf Committee argues that it alone has the power to select pilgrims.
The Central Haj Committee of India has still not taken a decision on the issue, leaving the pilgrims selected in the online draw confused.
The Haj Committee has asked the selected pilgrims to pay for the accommodation like the other pilgrims but has promised to refund the amount if their selection is found proper.
The fifth Nizam, Afzalud Dawlah Bahadur (1857-1869), had acquired some properties in Makkah and since then they have been used to provide accommodation to poor pilgrims from the then Hyderabad state.
Most of the buildings, however, vanished during last two decades due to expansion of the Masjid Al-Haram or the Grand Mosque.
The family members of the Nizam are unhappy over the current state of affairs.
"It is the poor Haj pilgrims who are suffering because of all these controversies," Najaf Ali Khan, grandson of the last Nizam, told IANS.
The president of the Nizam Family Welfare Association laments that the ongoing controversy was affecting the very purpose of his forefathers acquiring properties in Makkah.
Najaf said the Wakf Committee alone had the power to select the Haj pilgrims as it was appointed in 1980 by Mukarram Jah, scion of the royal family and 'mutawalli' or custodian of the properties.
Al-Shareef, however, argues that the committee has no authority over the properties in Makkah since they belong to Saudi Arabia. He claims the Saudi government has given him permits for providing accommodation as he is the 'Nazer'.
Al-Shareef is the son of Shareef Mohammed, who was appointed the caretaker by the last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, in 1967. After Shareef Mohammed's death in 1996, the royal court of Makkah appointed Al-Shareef as the caretaker. Najaf, however, says that as a caretaker, Al-Shareef has limited powers.
Najaf blames the negligence of the 'mutawalli' for the present crisis.
"The mutawalli, chairman and members of the Nizam Wakf Committee should take the responsibility as they could not stop Al-Shareef from allotment of Haj permits," said Najaf.
He also condemned the proposed move to fix a limited quota for family members of the Nizam.
Najaf also wants them to look into the issue relating to 42 properties purchased by their forefathers in Makkah and Madina and also the compensation paid by the Saudi government for acquiring buildings near the Grand Mosque in the 1970s.
According to him, the compensation runs into millions of rupees which can be used to purchase new buildings to accommodate 3,000 to 4,000 pilgrims from the districts of the erstwhile Hyderabad state.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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