Lucknow: More and more skeletons are falling from land deals made for Ram Mandir’s expansion in Ayodhya. With eyebrows raised at the deals, the Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust may rethink the process of taking new land for temple expansion. The trust can adopt the Kashi (Varanasi) model to acquire land.
It can be mentioned that after the controversy over purchasing 12,080 square meters of land for the temple last week, another similar case has come to light. This time the trust bought a similar piece of land at a larger location in Ayodhya for just Rs 8 crore. Interestingly, this second transaction also closed on the same day (March 18) this year and the original owners were the same. Not only that, the witnesses on this case are also the same. While one witness in this agreement is trusted member Anil Mishra, another is the mayor of Ayodhya Rishikesh Uppadhya.
According to the documents, on March 18, the Ram Mandir Trust was granted 10,370 square meters of land registered in its name from Kusum Pathak and Harish Pathak and an amount of Rs 8 crore was paid for it. Although this land is adjacent to the main road to the proposed Ram temple, another land in the remote area was purchased the same day but for Rs 18.50 crore. This land also originally belonged to Harish Pathak and Kusum Pathak who had a sale agreement with real estate dealers Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari. The 12,080 square meter plot was sold twice on the same day but at a very high price. While the original owner sold the land to property dealers Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari for Rs 2 crore, the later sold it to the Temple Trust for Rs 18.50 crore within minutes on the same day .
Uttar Pradesh’s opposition parties, including the Aam Adami Party (AAP), the Samajwadi Party and Congress, have raised their finger on the deal, accusing the trust of embezzling donor money. However, the trust has denied all of these allegations and provided clarifications in this regard on three occasions. The trust said the land was purchased at a price well below the market rate and that no improprieties were committed. He even said to prosecute the leaders of the AAP and the Samajwadi Party for distorting the facts and deceiving the faithful.
Sanjay Singh, AAP member Rajya Sabha and UP official, once again reiterated that a proper investigation should be conducted into the land deals entered into by the trust. He said that according to the standards, the income tax department should be informed of any land transaction over Rs 50 lakh at UP, but this was not done here in the case of Ayodhya temple. .
The Kashi land agreement model:
In Varanasi, the state government also entered into several such agreements during the implementation of the Kashi-Vishwanath Corridor Project. For this, a model was adopted whereby an evaluation committee composed of officials from the Ministry of Finance and engineers was formed. This committee was entrusted with the task of finalizing the price of land to be acquired for the corridor project. Now, Ayodhya’s trust can also adopt this model in order to bring transparency in land transactions.
The visionaries divided on the land transaction:
Seers from Ayodhya and elsewhere are divided on the issue of irregularities in land deals made for Ram Mandir’s expansion. While Swami Avimukteshwaranand, who is close to Shankaracharya Swaroopanand, accused the temple trust of embezzling donor money for its own benefit. Another clairvoyant and former MP Ram Vilas Vedanti said no one could put their finger on the honesty and integrity of the trusted secretary general, Champat Rai. However, he also argued for a Kashi-like model in Ayodhya’s land deals.
One of the petitioners in the Ram Mandir case, Mahant Dharam Das of Nirvani Akhada, said funds raised from Lord Ram’s followers should be used properly.