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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Patanjali yogpeeth land row: DC orders probe

Arvind Kashyap, Hindustan Times  Solan, February 25, 2013
First Published: 18:49 IST(25/2/2013) | Last Updated: 00:32 IST(26/2/2013)

Call it an act of appeasing the political bosses or discharging of duties dishonestly by a public servant, the preparing of wrong and misleading information to clear the decks for the allotment of land to Ramdev's Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust by the then revenue officials has led to a fresh controversy over the entire issue, here.

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Notably, the then Kandaghat tehsildar, in association with field revenue officials, had reportedly prepared forged documents concerning the status of the land. The tehsildar in his report, submitted to the deputy commissioner in 2009, had clearly mentioned that since around 118 bighas of land was vested to the Himachal government few decades ago and had also been acquired under Himachal Village Common Land Act 1974, thereby paving the legal way for the leasing out of the same to Balkrishan.

The land in question hogged to limelight after the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government had leased out the land to Acharya Balkrishan, trustee of the Patanjali Yogpeeth Haridwar, by charging lease money of Rs. 17,31,248 at Sadhupul, around 35 kilometres from the district headquarters. Further, it was also included in the terms and condition of the lease agreement that the yogpeeth's trustee would pay Rs. 1 as token money every month to the government, on February 2, 2010.

The original controversy over the leasing out of 96.2 bighas of land had surfaced after former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh had claimed that the land was unofficially donated by his forefathers to former prime minister of India Indira Gandhi during mid-sixties. The controversy begun when the state government, out of a total 118.9 bighas, leased out 96.2 bighas of land to Acharya Balkrishan for setting up of an independent yogpeeth, health institution and related centres in 2011.

Reliable sources in the administration revealed that a fresh controversy brewed up after the present Kandaghat tehsildar, on the directions of the government, started scrutinising the documents thoroughly and found that the land in question was never vested to Himachal government, hence it did not fall under the village common pool. The tehsildar in his report termed the report of the then tehsildar as 'wrong and misleading'. The false and forged report was submitted to the government in December 2009.

Meanwhile, Solan deputy commissioner Meera Mohanti, after receiving the tehsildar's report, shot off a letter to additional chief secretary for further action and ordered a fresh probe into the issue, directing the superintendent of police to initiate lawful action.

Congress spokesman Ajay Singh Chauhan said, "The detection of preparing forged documents by the revenue officials to clear the roadblocks for leasing out of prime land to the yogpeeth is enough evidence that the previous BJP government forced the officers to indulge in unlawful practices and discharge the duties dishonestly as public servants."

SP Ramesh Chhajta said, "After receiving the order, DSP (headquarters) Hemant Kumar has been asked to conduct a thorough probe into the matter and submit the report within a week."

Chhajta said that needed lawful action would be initiated if the probe established that the then revenue officials had prepared the forged documents.


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