A school management and a section of residents at a village in Umaria district have accused union minister for textiles Smriti Irani of entering in such a land deal at their village, which deprives them of their right on the land.
Umaria is more than 500 kilometers east of Bhopal. Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve close to the land in dispute attracts a good number of wildlife lovers every year.
As per the information reaching here the district administration has found no illegality in the matter so far.
Talking to media persons principal of the government middle school at village Kuchwahi Janaki Tiwari alleged, “The land adjacent to the school is a sports ground. I protested against fencing on the land in March this year but representatives of central minister Smriti Irani told me that the land had been purchased by the central minister’s firm. I asked them to spare the land of the school but they did the fencing forcibly.”
Earlier, the villagers of Kuchwahi too submitted an application to the SDM concerned in January this year alleging that the traditional route of the village had been blocked by ‘Smriti Rani’. The passage of the students from Narva Mohalla to the school too had been blocked by her.
Talking to Hindustan Times deputy sarpanch of Kuchwahi village Shaukhi Lal Singh said, “We lodged a complaint to the collector Abhishek Singh a couple of months back. He assigned the matter to sub divisional magistrate (SDM) JP Yadav. But when he did nothing we had to lodge a complaint on the CM Helpline”, he said.
The revenue department documents available with HT, however, suggest the land adjacent to the school was purchased by one Markaz Hospitality Private Ltd (authorized person Amit Kumra), which the school management and the villagers consider as the firm of SmritiIrani. The company directors as per information obtained from Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) website are Amit Kumar and Rohit Kumra.
As per the documents Smriti Irani’s husband Zubin Irani also bought about one hectare land at village Bijharia in Manpur tehsil. But the ‘present address’ of Zubin Irani and Amit Kumra both at the time of registry of the land was shown in the documents as MIG 1/06/08 Indira Nagar, Rewa. The registry of both the pieces of land was done on the same day – July 20, 2016 in Manpur, Umaria.
Zubin Irani has mentioned his permanent address as A-602 Neptune Apartment, Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri (W), Mumbai. Markaz Hospitality Private Limited’s incorporation date as per information obtained through Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ website is May 10, 2016, two months before it purchased the land. Its registered address is 293, Kehar Singh Estate West End Marg Saidulajab, Saket, Delhi South.
The district administration is tightlipped over the land issue.
The SDM JP Yadav denied having received any complaint regarding Kuchwahi land. He, however, added, “People are in habit of making baseless complaints.”
Collector Umaria Abhishek Singh said he was not aware of any such complaint. However, he would look into it.
Talking to the Hindustan Times land owner Rakesh Shukla said he had sold the land to ‘Rani sahiba’. However, there was no illegality in sale of the land. The school principal (Janki Tiwari) had launched a canard against them.
His brother Rajesh Shukla, co-owner of the land, spoke in a similar vein. However, he said he had sold his land to one Gupta. He didn’t know about Smriti Irani.
Despite efforts Smriti Irani couldn’t be contacted. There was no reply on her landline numbers as given on Rajya Sabha website- 011-23011382 and 011-23019288. There was no response on Zubin and Smriti Irani’s Mumbai residence telephone number 022-26391594 as ‘services to the number have been temporarily withdrawn’. There was no reply to e-mails either sent to the minister. Efforts to trace Markaz Hospitality Pvt Ltd directors at their Rewa address and get their contact numbers didn’t yield results till Thursday.