Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra in a statement strongly refuted the land scam allegations calling it political propaganda | Image: Twitter/@ShriRamTeerth
Pressure is growing for an inquiry into the land purchase ‘scam’ in Ayodhya exposed by the Opposition with saints who were not accommodated in the Trust questioning the transaction and some unease inside the Ram Temple Trust too over the procedure followed.
News18 has learned that the help or expertise of the three government representatives in the Trust was not sought while executing the complex land transaction that has blown up in the face of the Trust.
The Union Home Ministry has a senior officer on the Trust, along with a senior UP government official and the Ayodhya District Magistrate. But the land deal seems to have been handled mainly by the Trust’s secretary and VHP leader Champat Rai and member Anil Mishra. No independent or expert valuation of the land in question was done too.
Mahant Kamal Nayan Das, the representative of the Trust’s President Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, has accused the Trust members of not informing the President or taking his approval on the decisions of the Trust.
Another member of the Trust, speaking to News18 on the condition of anonymity, said the transaction was “avoidable” and the Trust should have waited for the sellers to come around and offer the land rather than the Trust seeking them out. “On the face of it, the nature of the deal appears dubious in the eyes of public,” the member said.
The Centre is keeping a close eye on the matter and is said to be in the favour of the Trust following a better mechanism in the future for such purchases, including setting up of a committee of experts to conduct the valuation of the land which is to be purchased and conduct the negotiations with the sellers for the same.
It could also be suggested to the Trust to take the help of the three government representatives in the Trust to study finer legalities of such transactions and relevant laws.
Saints Oppose the Trust
What is further complicating matters for the Trust is that prominent saints of Ayodhya like chief priest of Ram Janambhoomi Temple Satyendra Das, Hanumangarhi’s priest Raju Das and Swami Swaroopanand are questioning the deal.
Mahant Dharam Das of the Nirwani Akhara, who was one of the litigants in the Ram Temple case in the Supreme Court, has termed the Trust as “corrupt” while Swami Avimukteshwarnand of the Ramalya Trust has asked for a probe and the removal of Champat Rai and Anil Mishra from the Trust till then.
All these saints were not accommodated as members in the Ram Temple Trust by the government and have been miffed over the same, one of the Trust members pointed out.
However, the Trust has gone into silence mode over the fresh disclosure on Thursday that another piece of adjacent land of a similar area was also bought on the same day by the Trust directly from the same owners at a much lesser price.
After the Samajwadi Party and Aam Aadmi Party which exposed the matter, the Congress in UP has also jumped into the protests to corner the Trust. The Samajwadi Party is however now maintaining a more guarded stance after its leader and former MLA from Ayodhya Pawan Pandey had first exposed the matter.
“We have to maintain a balanced line as we cannot offend our Hindu voter base beyond a point ahead of the 2022 elections in Uttar Pradesh. The AAP and Congress have little stake in UP so they can up the ante as much as they want. We demand an inquiry and a probe,” a Samajwadi Party leader told News18.
The BJP in UP has so far adopted a combative line with Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya saying such opposition parties were always against the temple and want to impede its construction by the Trust.
“Leaders of Samajwadi Party who ordered the opening of fire on Kar Sewaks in Ayodhya have no moral right to speak on the matter,” Maurya has said. The Samajwadi Party has however said it is not in opposition to the temple’s construction after the SC settled the matter.