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Ram Mandir Land Purchase: Experts May Be Roped in For Future Deals As Pressure Grows for Probe into Oppn Charges

File Picture of Ayodhya

File Picture of Ayodhya

News18 learnt that the help or expertise of the three government representatives in the trust was not sought while executing the complex land transaction that has now blown up in the face of the temple trust.

Pressure has grown for an inquiry into the land purchase ‘scam’ in Ayodhya that was exposed by the Opposition, with saints who were not accommodated in the trust questioning the transaction. There has been some unease inside the Ram Temple Trust too over the procedure followed.

News18 learnt that the help or expertise of the three government representatives in the trust was not sought while executing the complex land transaction that has now blown up in the face of the trust. A senior Union Home Ministry officer is part of 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 secretary of the trust and VHP leader Champat Rai and member Anil Mishra. No independent or expert valuation of the land in question was done either.

Mahant Kamal Nayan Das, the representative of the trust’s president Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, has accused members of the trust of not informing the president or taking his approval on the decisions taken. 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 eyes of the 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 for such purchases in the future. The Centre wants a committee of experts to be set up 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.

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Saints Oppose the Trust

What is however further complicating matters for the trust is that prominent saints of Ayodhya like chief priest of the 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.

Political Attacks

After the Samajwadi Party and the Aam Aadmi Party, 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.

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first published:June 18, 2021, 10:44 IST