Ayodhya land deal: Congress demands Supreme Court intervention
The Congress on Monday alleged corruption by the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust in the purchase of land for the temple in Ayodhya, and sought Supreme Court intervention in it, even as other Opposition parties demanded a clarification from the Trust.
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “Lord Shri Ram is a symbol of faith for this nation. But the misuse and fraud of funds collected from crores of Indians for the construction of Shri Ram temple in Ayodhya is a sin and gross iniquity, in which Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are involved.”
The Congress was backing the allegations made by Samajwadi Party (SP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday. AAP’s UP in-charge and MP Sanjay Singh raised the issue at a press conference in Lucknow while SP’s Pawan Pandey made similar allegations in Ayodhya.
Quoting entries of the registered sale deed of the land, they said that the land was first purchased by Sultan Ansari and Ravi Tiwari on March 18 this year from its original owner Kusum Pathak, wife of Harish Kumar Pathak alias Baba Hardas, for ₹2 crore. Minutes later, the same land was purchased by Trust’s general secretary Champat Rai for a sum of ₹18.50 crore.
Trust member Anil Mishra and Ayodhya mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay were signatories to the ₹18.5 crore land sale deed, they alleged.
Citing the same land deed, Surjewala asked why the Trust purchased the land at a higher price if the members were aware of its cost.
He also alleged that Tiwari, who allegedly sold the land for ₹18.50 crore to the Trust, is related to Upadhyay.
Surjewala questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence over “ Ram bhakts being duped in the name of Shri Ram”. He raised three questions for the Prime Minister and demanded answers. He asked if these “sinners who disrespected Lord Ram” have the Prime Minister’s protection. He asked how could BJP leaders, who take a pledge of values and morality in the name of Lord Ram, commit such “heinous sins”. And finally, he demanded to know how much more land of this type has been bought from the donations made in the name of temple construction.
Since the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust was formed by the Supreme Court in 2019, he urged the Chief Justice of India and the apex court to “take cognizance of the whole matter and order a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the alleged scam”. The party also requested the Supreme Court to conduct an audit of the donations received and the expenses made by the Trust, along with making the audit report public before the citizens.”
In Mumbai, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said such allegations against the Trust “have hurt our beliefs and sentiments”. He said, “The head of the trust should come forward and clarify the allegations levelled by the SP.”
Delhi deputy chief minister and senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia also sought a clarification from the Trust. Terming it a “scam”, he said the temple is being built using donations made by people and their hard-earned money should not be misused.
The Trust has refuted these allegations. Trust’s general secretary, Champat Rai, said in a statement that all land that the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra bought so far has been purchased at a price much lower than the market rates. “We do not fear allegations. I will study the allegations levelled against us and probe them,” he said.
UP deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma said, “The Trust is the authority here. It has to reply. But I wish to ask why these people start talking about Ram Temple and Lord Ram when elections are close? They must stop being allergic to the name of Lord Ram. It was such people who were raising slogans such as, “Mandir wahin banayengey, lekin date nahin bataayeige (we will build the temple at the Janmabhoomi but won’t say when). And now, when the temple is coming up following the order of the Supreme Court, these people are again creating a nuisance.”
With agency inputs