It needs to be understood that Waqf is nobody’s property, rather it belongs to the people of J&K. It has to function as per the foundations and principles it got from the Sufi tradition which has existed in Kashmir for centuries. The tradition is older than any law or regulation and it was this tradition which provided the Waqf with the ground to operate, to facilitate, and in return, it was expected that it would allow the structure to be left untouched, and unaltered. That is what happened for decades, however, the same now seems to be changing drastically.
The people of Kashmir are not against the reforms which are aimed at bringing transparency and accountability within the Waqf structure, but the Waqf authorities need to be sensitive about the affiliations of the people with the shrines and the belief system the entire structure stands on. If people, visiting shrines for their peace and tranquillity end up offering money to those who have been permanent features of the shrines, what is there to be offended about? Because they are aware that the Waqf system is rife with corruption and malpractices, people are reluctant to donate money to it because they know it won’t go where it should. Although that system may be changing, the overall picture is largely negative.
What the Waqf authorities have done over the past few months is unfortunate, regrettable, and is a direct attack on the tradition of Sufism and the belief system of the people of Kashmir. Instead of altering the culture, resorting to mutations, and presenting a negative image of the people who have been managing the shrines for centuries, the Waqf needs to introspect on what line of action it has chosen to apparently set things in order within its system. The people of J&K would welcome any step aimed at streamlining the affairs within the Waqf, but at no cost would they side with the coercive steps which have been taken so far aimed at “overhauling”. What has been done is not wise and the people of Kashmir would stand against it in whatever way they can.