New Delhi: The Supreme Court ruling in favor of building a Ram temple in Ayodhya sparked a gold rush for land near the temple site and several government officials – including a provincial deputy – also joined in. joined with them in the hope of getting money out of them, according to a Indian express report.
According to a survey by the newspaper, several government officials – including local MPs, relatives of bureaucrats who served or serve in Ayodhya, and local tax officials whose job it is to authenticate land transactions – have purchased land within a five-kilometer radius. of the temple site – either in the months before the Supreme Court verdict in November 2019 or later.
Buyers who have purchased land in their own name include an MP, a mayor and a member of the state OBC commission, according to the report. Relatives of the divisional commissioner, the divisional magistrate, the deputy inspector general of police, the officer of the police circle, the state information commissioner also bought land, the newspaper noted.
The newspaper, in a report, said a set of transactions – in the early 1990s – may have been in violation of standards. The Maharshi Ramayan Vidyapeeth Trust (MRVT), which was founded by Mahesh Yogi, is under investigation for alleged irregularities in the purchase of land from villagers belonging to a Dalit community.
At least four buyers are closely linked to officials who surveyed the MRVT for purchasing the land in the early 1990s, raising questions of “ownership and conflict of interest,” the Indian Express said.
The MRVT had purchased nearly 21 bighas (about 13 acres) of land from the Dalits. These lands were purchased in the village of Barhata Manjha, less than 5 km from the site of the Ram temple.
While the rules of the Uttar Pradesh tax code prohibit the acquisition of agricultural land (less than 3.5 bighas) belonging to Dalits by a non-Dalit, unless authorized by the district magistrate, the MRVT has purchased plots of land to a dozen villagers in 1992 using Ronghai, an MRVT employee who is also from a Dalit community, as a “conduit” in the transaction, the daily reported.
The deeds of sale were registered in the name of Ronghai, who signed an unregistered deed of gift in June 1996. (daan-patra), and “donate” all land to the MRVT, the newspaper added, citing records.
Mahadev, one of the people whose land was bought by Ronghai and “given” to the MRVT, then complained to the Board of Revenue that his land had been “illegally transferred”. He was paid Rs 1.02 lakh for his 3 bighas, according to files cited by the newspaper.
In fact, the entire land was purchased by the MVRT for around Rs 6.38 lakh. It is currently worth Rs 3.90 crore to Rs 8.50 crore, according to THAT IS TO SAY.
Ronghai and his family continue to live far from Ayodhya in the village of Sahavpur, about 25 km from Prayagraj. His wife Ghabrain told the daily that she had never been informed of such an agreement and that Ronghai had not visited Ayodhya for several years.
Land purchased by government officials raises ‘ownership’ issues
The daily further reports that although the plots bought by relatives of government officials do not fall under the 21 bighas in dispute, the fact that the seller in all of these cases is the MRVT raises questions of ownership.
The newspaper spoke with officials and buyers who bought land in Ayodhya.
The father-in-law and brother-in-law of Deputy Agrawal, Ayodhya’s division commissioner since November 2019, purchased 2,530 square meters and 1,260 square meters for Rs 31 lakh and Rs 15.50 lakh, respectively, from Barhata Manjha. The land was purchased from the MRVT. According to records, the commissioner’s wife is a partner in her father’s office. The stepfather says Agarwal played no part in the deal.
A relative of Purushottam Das Gupta, Ayodhya’s revenue manager between July 20, 2018 and September 10, 2021, purchased 1,130 square meters from Barhata Manjha on October 12, 2021 for Rs 21.88 lakh from the MRVT. Gupta is now the additional (executive) district magistrate in Gorakhpur.
Gupta said he played no role in the investigation against MRVT. Her parent said THAT IS TO SAY he bought the land because it was available at a lower price and did not ask Gupta for help.
Indra Pratap Tiwari, MP for Gosaiganj in Ayodhya district, bought 2,593 square meters from Barhata Manjha on November 18, 2019, for Rs 30 lakh from the MRVT. On November 18, 2019, an MLA-linked trust, the Maan Sharda Sewa Trust, purchased 9,860 square meters from Barhata Manjha from the MRVT for Rs 73.95 lakh.
Deepak Kumar’s sister-in-law, Deputy Inspector General of Police between July 26, 2020 and March 30, 2021, purchased 1,020 square meters from Barhata Manjha on September 1, 2021, for Rs 19.75 lakh from the MRVT . He is now the DIG of Aligarh.
Umadhar Dwivedi, a retired IAS officer from the UP cadre who now lives in Lucknow, purchased 1,680 square meters from Barhata Manjha on October 23, 2021, for Rs 39.04 lakh from the MRVT. He told the newspaper that he was not aware of any pending cases against the MRVT.
The daughter of Dinesh Ojha, a court official from Bhan Singh, who is a deputy registration officer in charge of the MRVT case, also bought land, the Indian Express reported. He bought 2,542 square meters from Tihura Manjha for Rs 5 lakh from Mahrajdeen on March 15, 2021. This village also falls under the jurisdiction of Bhan Singh, according to the newspaper.