‘Lack of adequate graveyards affecting Muslims in the state’

Muslims in the state have no place to bury 30 per cent of their dead with some having to wait with bodies at home for nearly 2-3 days before finding space in graveyards while others have to travel nearly 25 km to perform the last rites of their kin, the Punjab Wakf board Chairman Izhar Alam said on Sunday.

The issue of space crunch for graveyards dominated a Punjab Muslims conference at Dana Mandi on Sunday, which saw the participation of thousands of Muslims from across the state. "The lack of graveyards is a major problem for the Muslim population in villages and this will be discussed with the chief minister when he visits Malerkotla," Alam said. Of the12,000 villages in Punjab, Muslims have a presence in nearly 5,400 of them.

A host of speakers at the conference pointed out that despite this, in places like Phagwara, there was only a 100 square yard for the community to bury its dead while in villages like Pasla Patti Chokra, there is no graveyard at all.

The community members also used the opportunity on Sunday to form a Muslim Welfare and Shariat Society and elected Alam as its first chairman. "Our society will take initiatives to open convent schools for Muslims where fee structure will be far less than private schools. These schools will be open to others as well. After Independence our community never took any initiative to get quality education and neither have governments paid attention to this aspect," Munshi Mohammad Ashraf, executive member of the newly formed society said.

He further said that a Shariat panchayat will also be formed to solve marital problems, property-related disputes and added that those not satisfied with the verdicts can approach the courts.

The society will also take up issues related to encroachments on Wakf board properties and many other issues.

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