The Himachal Pradesh government has ordered a probe into the land leased to yoga guru Ramdev’s Bharat Swabhiman Trust at Sadhupul in Solan district.
In an interaction with Hindustan Times in Shimla, chief minister Virbhadra Singh said, “I hold no grudges against Ramdev or his trust but the land allotted to him was transferred in a wrong way, hence the probe.”
The previous BJP government headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal had leased out 20 acres (96.5 bighas) at Kehlog village along the Kandaghat-Chail state highway to Ramdev for Rs 17.31 lakh for 99 years in 2010 to set up an herbal garden and a branch of his Patanjali Yogpeeth. On behalf of the trust, the agreement was signed by Acharaya Balkrishan, an aide of Ramdev and a trustee at Patanjali Yogpeeth.
The chief minister said that the state cabinet had approved a different land for Ramdev but in reality a prime piece of land at Sadhupul was transferred to his trust. “Preliminary inquiry reveals that a different plot was allotted to Ramdev but later a prime piece of land was given to him,” Virbhadra Singh said, adding that his government was getting the matter probed by the state anti-corruption and vigilance bureau.
“The official who connived to wrongfully allot the land to Ramdev will be taken to task,” Virbhadra warned.
It has also come to the notice, Virbhadra said, that a few BJP leaders, including former ministers, bought plots surrounding the one leased to Ramdev. “The motive was to sell the land they bought at higher rates once the herbal garden comes up,” he alleged.
However, three months after coming to power, the Virbhadra Government revoked the lease on February 19, 2013, and directed the Solan deputy commissioner to take possession of the land. Three days after the cancellation of the lease, a team of Solan district officials took possession of the land.
In less than a week, Ramdev moved the Himachal high court against the government’s action. On February 28, 2013, the court directed the state government to maintain status quo on the land.
The land originally belonged to the erstwhile royals of Patiala and had been donated to late prime minister Indira Gandhi, who later gave it to the Himachal Pradesh government for setting up a holiday home for children.
Sequence of events
February 2010: Then BJP government allots 20 acres of prime land in Solan to Ramdev.
February 19, 2013: Newly formed Congress government’s cabinet decides to cancel lease deed
February 20: Government directs Solan DC to take possession of the land
February 21: Solan deputy commissioner Meera Mohanty and Solan SP Ramech Chandra Chhajta hold meeting with chief secretary Sudripta Roy in Shimla
February 22: Administration takes possession of the land
July 2015: Government orders probe into the process followed in the allotment of land