The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to undertake a survey of all waqf properties registered under the Waqf Act.
The survey order will cover both the Sunni and Shia waqf properties.
The order for survey of waqf properties comes close on the heels of a similar order for the survey of unrecognised private madrasas across the state.
The Minority Welfare Department has issued a directive in this regard to district minority welfare officers, chief executive officers of Shia and Sunni Waqf Boards and revenue officers in districts. Official sources said the government has ordered the survey to vacate illegal possession and transfer of waqf properties by unscrupulous officers.
The opposition reacted sharply to the government's decision, calling it a bid to "entangle people only in Hindu-Muslim issue".
On Tuesday, the UP government revoked a Government Order of 1989 issued by the then Congress government led by Chief Minister ND Tewari. The 1989 GO mandated automatic registration of high or mounded land, barren land, and alkaline land as Waqf property.
The UP government has directed all the district magistrates and divisional commissioners to re-examine the documents of all the waqf properties which have been registered under the Waqf Act since April 7, 1989 and to record the status of such lands.
The government says that cemetery, mosque and idgah land should be demarcated properly because on the basis of the 1989 ordinance, many such properties which were alkaline and waste land in the revenue records were also declared as waqf properties.
Under the cover of this order, some cultivable land was also automatically registered as waqf property, sources said.
The government says that under the Muslim Waqf Act of 1960, no waqf property can be automatically registered whereas under the 1989 order, it has come to the fore that many properties were registered with the Waqf Board without any application.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav hit out at the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state over the decision to survey waqf properties.
"We are against the survey of waqf properties by the state government. It should not be done. This government has to entangle people only in Hindu-Muslim issue. Will people who survey madrasas make India a 1-trillion dollar economy?" Akhilesh Yadav said.
UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya called Akhilesh Yadav's opposition to the survey as "appeasement politics".
"Akhilesh Yadav has strayed from the issues. He only has the support of mafia, miscreants and rioters. The Muslim community did not get the benefit of the waqf properties and many such properties are under the possession of land mafia," Maurya said.
Maurya added that if truth comes out from the survey and properties are vacated, the government could provide benefits to the poor Muslims.
“The government has an honest intention. Only the vested interests are against the decision and the protest by the opposition parties is politically motivated," he said.