On Sunday when Nripendra Misra, former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and now head of the Ram Janmabhoomi Tirth Kshetra Trust’s Temple Construction Committee, met the trustees and experts in Ayodhya to take stock of temple works, the Samajwadi Party and the Aam Aadmi Party alleged fraud and corruption over the purchase of a piece of land by the Trust on March 18 this year.
In a press conference in Lucknow, Sanjay Singh, AAP’s in-charge for Uttar Pradesh, and a Member of Parliament, said “The piece of land in Ayodhya is registered with number 243, 244 and 246. Its value is Rs 5.80 crore. It was purchased from Kusum Pathak and Harish Pathak by Sultan Ansari and Ravi Mohan Tiwari for Rs 2 crore. The purchase had two witnesses — Anil Mishra, a member of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust, and Rishikesh Upadhyay, who is the Mayor of Ayodhya. It was purchased at 7.10 pm. In the next five minutes, the same land was bought by Ram Janmabhoomi Trust and Champat Rai for Rs 18.5 crore from Ansari and Tiwari. Rs 17 crore was transferred through RTGS.”
In a statement issued late night, the Trust said, the current sellers had a registered agreement years ago at a price, and after the bainama (sale deed) on March 18, they sold it to the Trust. “After the Supreme Court order, a lot of people started coming to Ayodhya to purchase land, and as the UP government is also purchasing a lot of land for development works, the land price increased suddenly. The land on which discussion has started is very close to the railway station and therefore, is at a very important location. All the lands purchased by the Trust are purchased at a price much lower than the market price,” the statement said.
AAP’s Sanjay Singh claimed the stamp papers for the first purchase were bought at 5.11 pm, and for the second at 5.22 pm. He demanded this be probed by the CBI or ED as it concerns religious beliefs of crores of people.
At another press conference in Ayodhya, Samajwadi Party leader and former MLA, Pawan Pandey, also raised similar questions, “A piece of land was bought for Rs 2 crore in which trustees were witnesses. Did the land start giving out gold that it was bought for Rs 18.5 crore a few minutes later… The Trustee is the witness along with Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay. I have the documentary proof.”
The Trust, however, said the propaganda by political people on the issue was misleading. “The concerned person is political and the matter is politically motivated,” it said.
The statement, signed by Champat Rai, also claimed that all the sale and purchase is done by proper communication and agreement, and signatures are taken on agreement papers. “All the court fees and stamp paper purchase is done online and the amount is transferred into the bank account of the seller through online transaction,” it said.
While Ansari — one of the two property dealers who sold the piece of land to the Trust — did not respond to calls, Tiwari said the agreement for the said land was made with the Pathaks several years ago for Rs 2 crore, but its value increased significantly after the Supreme Court decision. “While I purchased it for Rs 2 crore as per my agreement, the actual price must be more than Rs 20 crore now. But I sold it for just Rs 18.5 crore because it is for a project concerned with our faith,” said Tiwari.
Responding to the allegation, Champat Rai, Secretary, Ram Janmabhoomi Trust, said, “I will study the matter. I will not comment at this point. Allegations never worry me.” Ayodhya Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay said he will not comment on the allegations. Only the Trust will make any statement, he said.
According to the documents provided by AAP and Samajwadi Party leaders, the land over which the alleged fraudulent deal happened is a residential plot of 12,080 square metres. The papers state the property is located in Bagbijaisi village, Haveli Awadh, under Sadar tehsil in Ayodhya.
Elaborating on the meeting of the Trust on Sunday, Champat Rai said, “Till March 31, we have deposited over Rs 3,200 crore in the banks. Over 4 crore people contributed Rs 10 each, and a little less than 4 crore people contributed Rs 100 each. Others contributed Rs 1,000 or more. Rs 80 crore was collected by direct bank transfer. Another Rs 60 lakh was collected by those coming to the Ram Janambhoomi when there was no lockdown.”