Dargah keepers fight over Zardari cheques

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's much-awaited Rs 5-crore gift for the Ajmer dargah sparked off an infighting among the hereditary priests and the government-appointed Dargah Committee. While the Anjumans, bodies of the traditional khadims at the dargah, claimed full right over the entire 'nazrana' (offering), the Pakistani delegation that had brought with it three cheques had to go through rounds of deliberations till late in the evening on Friday to convince them to accept their share.

During his visit to the shrine in April, Zardari had promised a gift of Rs 5 crore leaving the parties involved at the dargah guessing whose kitty it would fall into. The following four months, all the parties kept their fingers crossed but no news of the gift came. Right before Eid, a six-member Pakistani delegation led by Salman Bashir, Pakistan High Commissioner to India, arrived at the dargah to deliver the promised gift, only to be received by squabbling bodies claiming their right on the gift.

When the Pakistani delegation in a formal ceremony Friday evening at Ajmer announced that they had come with three cheques for the Dargah Committee, Anjuman Syed Yadgaar and Anjuman Sheikh Yadgaar, members of the Anjumans refused to accept the money claiming they had full right over the entire money. Anjuman Syed Yadgaar secretary Syed Wahid Hussain, turned down the offering saying that a 'nazrana' should never be divided like this. The ceremony had to be left unfinished and a closed door meeting followed where the delegation pacified the members and convinced them to accept the gift. Sources said the Anjumans were warned that if they did not accept the amount now it was likely to lapse and they might be left with nothing amidst the infighting.

The Anjumans are said to have been in a constant tussle for power with the Dargah Committee, which is is responsible for the development and maintenance of the shrine.

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