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Fears of misuse of Muslim 'wakf' property in India as official suspended

MUMBAI - India's Maharashtra state has suspended a former head of a Muslim organization in charge of land endowments, amid growing concern that "wakf" land and property set aside for religious or charitable use is being illegally sold on to developers.
The state land department, in an order last week, said Naseem Banu Patel misused her power as chief executive in declaring wakf land endowed for religious or charitable purposes, as non-waqf for sale to a developer.
Patel's mobile phone was switched off. She had stepped down as chief executive but was still an officer on the wakf board. The board's current chief executive, A.R. Qureshi, said he did not wish to comment.
Wakf is an endowment of land or property by a Muslim for a religious, educational or charitable purpose. Under Indian law, it cannot be transferred or sold, and must be used for the community's welfare.
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