Following the probe orders by the Himachal chief minister the Sirmour deputy commissioner has ordered Paonta Sahib sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Sharavan Manta to conduct a probe into alleged encroachment, violations of Section 118 of the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972, and
other charges labelled against Kunjo Matralyion-based ashram of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu.
The issue was brought to the knowledge of chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Wednesday.
According to information, the ashram is spread over 30 bighas, even though not a single inch of the land is under the ownership of the ashram.
The Paonta Sahib administration had set a target of 3-4 days for themselves to complete the probe into the charges against the ashram so that the report could be submitted to the government as soon as possible, said sources with the administration.
Sources further revealed that the ashram was constructed on the premises that had been owned by nine local landowners.
Meanwhile, the investigating officer-cum-SDM has summoned all the actual landowners to know the reasons behind them allowing the construction of the ashram on their lands.
However, the preliminary investigations revealed that the boundaries of the ashram were illegally expanded on adjoining private lands.
Well-placed sources with the administration told HT that the SDM would also investigate into whether the prior permission under Section 118 of the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972 - which is mandatory - was sought from the secretary of the revenue department for the construction of the ashram or not.
On Thursday, a joint team of the forest and revenue departments headed by the SDM visited the ashram area for collecting records and statements of local residents.
Sources said the investigator would also look into why the local people of the area allowed the construction on in their private holdings.
When asked about his ongoing investigations, the SDM said it was too early to comment on the findings of the probe, but admitted that the report would be submitted to the government within few days. He said the probe would look into every aspect of the law, however, did not rule out the possibility of the violation of Section 118.
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